Condom Use Is Tanking Amongst Men. But Why?

STIs are on the rise, and, yet, fewer guys are wrapping it up.

The first time I had sex without a condom, I was a senior in college and had been with my girlfriend at the time for about six months. We’d both been tested—I was clean because I’d never had sex with anybody else—and she was on the Pill. It seemed relatively responsible. But while I found the experience pleasurable, I also felt exposed, as if I were playing hockey without a cup or driving without a seatbelt. It wasn’t gratifying enough that I wanted, afterward, to ditch condoms altogether. For the most part, I appreciate what they do.

Surprisingly, my position puts me in the minority, as an increasing number of men are going without condoms. The vast majority of guys don’t use them often or for long, according to Men’s Health sex and relationships advisor Debby Herbenick, a sexual-
health researcher at Indiana University, and most people don’t even use them in casual sex after their mid-20s. This is jarring in light of recent data from the CDC, which reports that which reports that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. In 2017 nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the United States, a record high.

Angel, a teacher in Delray Beach, Florida, who is single and in his late 30s, abandoned condoms 15 years ago in favor of the bare-backed approach. He acknowledges that it’s “super dangerous” but gets tested regularly and hasn’t contracted any diseases yet, he says. “The thing is, I know that it’s not the smartest thing,” says Angel, “but when you’re in the moment, and ready to go, sometimes you’re not thinking logically.”

Few people are, I guess, when they have sex on the brain. I’ve heard the same about syphilis.


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