To help mark Condom Awareness week Fuck.com asked Abi to rummage through her mailbag. She's pulled out a few questions about safer sex concerns in relationships that don’t always fit the mould. 


 

Dear Abi,


I’ve known for a while now that polyamory suits me better than more traditional relationship styles.  I’ve spent a lot of that time single, or casually dating a couple of people.

I’m now in a position where I have a steady partner. I seem to be developing something of a similar level with someone else, and I’m wondering. What’s standard etiquette for condom usage?

In previous relationships of this significance, I’ve stopped using them. But it feels like it’s different when there’s more than one other person involved.

With inexperience,
Polly Newbie

 

Abi replies:
 

A lot of people in your situation stick to a rule similar to the one I use in my relationship life. In some significant sexual relationships that involve PIV, I’ll go without condoms, but only with one person at the time. In return, I ask them to follow the same rule.

I’m also careful to get tested after one of these relationships ends before having PIV sex without a condom with someone else.

As with all things, this decision is more about figuring out what works best for you and your partners than trying to do it the way other people seem to. For many people, condoms are the best method available to them.

If having PIV sex without condoms doesn't appeal to you, why bother worrying about this at all?

Stay safe,
Abi x

 

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Dear Abi,


I’ve been with my primary partner for over a year now. She’s asked if we can stop using condoms, about which I feel both curious and cautious. I like the idea in theory, but despite being in my forties and having slept with about a hundred people, I’ve never gone without one! What’s it like, and what are the major pros and cons?

Cautious regards,
A Fluid-Bonding Hopeful

 

Abi replies:

A quick note to start: I’m making the assumption here that you’re an AMAB person, as the question seems to imply that you are.

I have a close friend of comparable statistics who has similarly never had condomless penetrative sex. When asked about it, he said that the risk/reward never really added up. If the same goes for you, there’s no reason to stop wrapping it up. -Your partner ought to understand that!

I can only answer your specific questions from personal experience, and everyone is different. For me, though, here are a few of the major points:Condoms give you an invaluable peace of mind; there's something about having a visible, physical barrier that's comforting.

It’s true that not needing to use a condom makes it easier to be spontaneous, easier to experiment in showers and baths and other more unlikely locations. 

In non-monogamous relationships - which it sounds as though yours is - there’s always a chance of picking something up from outside. Using condoms in all circumstances significantly reduces this risk.

 PIV sex with a condom can be a lot neater than not using one. There are nice things about someone coming inside you, sure, but I’m not mad keen on some of the after-effects.

Yes, there’s a difference in sensation - and yes, it does feel better. It doesn’t feel much better, though. The difference isn’t big enough for me to take otherwise unnecessary risks over it.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to bear in mind that this doesn’t have to be a one-time decision. You’re perfectly able to try without a condom once and then go back to using them. 

Stay safe,
Abi x
 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Abi,


You’ve been around a bit. What do you consider to be the best safer sex methods? I’m currently looking at my options, and I’m not sure what’s the best decision!

Yours nosily,
Considering All Possibilities

 

Abi replies:


The answer to this depends on what you mean by “best.”  If you mean “best for preventing STIs,” condoms are your best option. 

If you mean “best for preventing pregnancy” and you’re not interested in sterilisation, you should consider the implant, the IUD or the IUS. They’re all more than 99% safe, which means that fewer than 1 in every 100 people using them will become pregnant within a five-year period.

If you refer to what I prefer personally, the Mirena wins hands down. I’m on my second one now - and I haven’t had a period since 2011 as a result, which suits me tremendously.

It’s a personal choice and one that everyone needs to make for themselves. If you’d like some help making the decision, it’s worth having a look at this test developed by the FPA. 

Stay safe,
Abi

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Abi,

 

Does anyone ever actually use dental dams? I’m a lesbian, and I’ve slept with a decent number of women, but I never have - and neither have any of my friends. Do you? Why do you think it’s so uncommon? Should we start?

Yours curiously,
An Unbarriered Lesbian

 

Abi replies:


Time for the Ask Abi Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Nor am I a nurse, sexual health specialist, or medical professional of any kind. That's probably the reason why I’ve never used any of protection when having sex with other women.

In all honesty, PIV is the only thing for which I ever do use barrier contraception. Nobody’s ever asked me to use dental dams, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any friends who habitually do.

It’s not true that cisgendered women can’t give each other STIs. It is true that it’s less likely than it is with many other forms of sexual activity.

  • Use your common sense
  • Keep your sex toys clean
  • Wash your hands
  • Give serious thought to your boundaries about bodily fluids
  • Get yourself tested at least annually


Trying to insist that we all start using dental dams is probably a losing battle - but it’s worth bearing in mind that it would technically be better if we did.

Stay safe,
Abi x


 

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewelry. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

Have any questions for Abi? Leave a comment below or email her askabi@fuck.com


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