What are some alternatives to the condoms that are in the dispensers on campus for different kinds of sexual activity?

AG: Thanks for the great question! A lot of people think that external (or sometimes known as the “male” condom) is one of the only options if they’re using a barrier method to prevent pregnancy and/or STIs, but this is totally not true! There are lots of safer sex supplies out there for all different kinds of sex for people to try.

AA: As AG mentioned there are many different options for safer sex supplies. To begin there are many different types of external condoms including latex-free, glow-in-the-dark, ribbed, flavored (check ingredient list to make sure they do not contain sugars which would not be suited for vaginal or anal intercourse), larger size, and ultra thin to name a few.

AG: If you and your partner(s) are using external condoms, it can be a good (and fun!) idea to try some of these different kinds to figure out what feels the best for you! Also, it’s important to remember that external condoms aren’t just used on a penis; they can be put onto sex toys both to protect against STIs and to help keep them clean.

AA: The other barrier method used to protect against pregnancy and/or STIs during penetrative sex are internal condoms (or what is sometimes known as the “female” condom).  The benefits of using an internal condom over an external condom is that it can be inserted into the vagina or anus up to six hours before initiating sex. It also covers a larger surface area around the vagina or anus to protect against STIs that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact such as HPV. Make sure that if you are using an internal condom for anal sex that you make sure to remove the plastic ring that is found inside the internal condom. This ring is used to hold the condom in place when it is inserted into a vagina, but doesn’t serve the same function in the anus.

AG: Even if you’re not having penetrative vaginal or anal sex, and pregnancy isn’t a possible outcome, there are still other barrier methods that reduce the transmission of STIs! For example, dental dams can be used for oral sex on a vulva or anus, and finger cots or gloves can be used if you or your partner(s) have any warts or cuts on your hands. And again, if you’re having oral sex with a penis, you can use any type of external condom, including flavored, to reduce the spread of STIs! With all of these options, like we wrote about a few weeks ago, don’t forget to use lube!

AA: There are many places on campus where you can access many of these different types of safer sex supplies for free. Check out our interactive map below for the locations on campus. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email us at harvard.sexual.literacy@gmail.com.

AG: Hope you find an alternative that works for you!



Amanda Ayers

Health Educator