Alternatives to Condoms

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Condoms are an important part of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, they’re not the only way to protect yourself.

You can also use internal condoms, which are loose non-latex pouches with a ring at each end that sit in your anus during sexual activity. They are available at pharmacies, supermarkets and sexual health clinics.

1. Make an Ice Pack

It’s pretty much a given that most people buy condoms to have sex, but they can serve other purposes too. For instance, you can make an ice pack by filling up a few condoms with water and freezing them (don’t overfill or they might burst). Then wrap the frozen condom around your sore joints or muscles for instant relief.

If you’re camping in the great outdoors, condoms can also double as a fire starter. Just roll one up into a tight ball, wrap it in some paper or cloth and use it to light your campfire. Just remember that latex condoms burn quickly and can be irritating to a partner with a latex allergy. For that reason, if you have a latex allergy, try polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms, which are latex-free and have a similar thickness to standard thin condoms.

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Another condom-related survival tip is to keep some extra condoms in your car or backpack for emergency situations when you’re hiking, camping or climbing. You can also use them as a waterproof liner to prevent your phone, wallet or other belongings from getting wet when you’re walking through rainstorms or swimming in a lake. Also, if you’re going to be doing manual sex, latex finger condoms or gloves are helpful in preventing fluid-borne STIs like herpes and genital warts, because they create a barrier between your hands and your partner’s genital area. You can find them online.

2. Keep Your Bandages Dry

A condom’s sole purpose is to protect you from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Unfortunately, some people are looking for alternatives that are less than effective.

One such product is the Jiftip, a disposable condom with a built-in finger-shaped reservoir that’s supposed to be used during masturbation. This is a terrible idea for several reasons. First, there’s the risk of a finger injury, and the Jiftip isn’t as slippery as a regular condom, so it may slip off during masturbation. Second, it’s unclear how safe the Jiftip is. Doctor Lauren Streicher and sex educator Debby Herbenick both spoke out against it on Twitter, saying that the device could be painful and dangerous.

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If you want a safer alternative, stick with a regular latex condom or one of the many polyurethane or polyisoprene condom options available without a prescription. Polyurethane condoms are similar to latex ones, but they don’t contain the chemical lubricant. Polyisoprene condoms are also lubricated but have added odor control. And if you’re worried about overstimulation, try a desensitizing condom.

If you’re allergic to latex, a doctor can test your blood or skin for signs of an allergy. If you’re not, you can buy a nonlatex condom or an organic cotton thong. Another barrier method to consider is a female condom, or “femidom”—a soft pouch with flexible rings at each end that’s inserted into the vagina and sits in the urethra. These are available without a prescription in pharmacies, supermarkets and sexual health clinics. You can even find them in vending machines in some venues.

3. Make Your Own Anti-Stress Ball

Whether you’re feeling stressed, anxious or down in the dumps, these fun DIY stress balls can help. You can buy them online, but it’s super easy to make your own. Simply take a non latex condom and fill it with flour, making sure to tie a knot at the opening. Then, gently squeeze and squish until you’ve released some tension. They’re perfect for kids who need to blow off steam, too!

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Another use for old condoms is to make waterbombs, which can be used as a substitute lid for containers. You can also use them as a slingshot or a projectile to throw at something—just make sure not to aim for your head, of course.

Using a condom as a barrier to stop STIs and pregnancy is the most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are up to 99% effective when used correctly, according to the FDA. But they can be less effective if they’re not applied properly or if a woman has a medical condition that prevents lubrication. In these cases, spermicide can be used as an alternative. You can purchase desensitizing condoms that last longer, such as the Durex Prolong Condoms or the Lifestyle Extra Thin Condoms, online. Or you can try a lubricated alternative, like the Lelo HEX Condoms or the Lola Ultra Thin Condoms.

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