First-timers: Can you have sex without a condom if you’re on birth control?

Dear Sexpert,

I’ve been hooking up with the same girl for a while, and we talked about it and decided that we were ready to have sex. The only thing is, we’re both virgins, so we really have no idea what we’re doing or what to expect. On the plus side though, since she’s already on birth control, we won’t have to use a condom, which I’ve heard can make sex less pleasurable. Any tips?




Dear First,

It’s great that you two had an open and honest discussion about your sexual wants and needs. In terms of advice, I would tell you to keep up the good communication! It’s important for both partners to be clear about their desires. In terms of actual “sex tips,” a lot of websites offer straightforward advice that might be more helpful than what you find in popular magazines – some places to start might be Planned Parenthood’s site, “Understanding Sexual Pleasure,” or the FAQ section on Ultimately, what’s most important is what feels good to you and your partner!

After studying up, you might still want to head to McCosh Health Center to pick up free condoms. Even though your partner is taking an oral contraceptive, which helps to prevent pregnancy, there is still a risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here’s why: being a “virgin” can mean very different things to different people. For some, it might just mean no penetrative sex, while for others it might mean nothing more than kissing. And even if it only means kissing to both of you, there is still a risk of transmitting infections, like herpes. Furthermore, some people may identify as being a virgin if they are currently abstinent, but have had sexual intercourse previously.  For peace of mind, I would recommend that you both make appointments to get STI testing at the Sexual Health and Wellness clinic at McCosh. It’s cheap and convenient: HIV testing is free, and it’s only $9.50 for a test for gonorrhea and chlamydia – and you can easily schedule the appointment online. Until you and your partner get and share your results, it is safest to use a condom.

For some, using a condom can dull physical pleasure or may lower sexual excitement. However, condoms come many sizes and varieties, including flavored, ribbed, extra lubricated, etc. and some exploration may help find one that provides the most pleasure for both you and your partner. Using condoms during sexplay can also prevent the lowering of excitement by stopping activities to put on a condom.

Once you’re sure that you’re not at risk for STIs, then you can reconsider whether condoms and the pill, oral contraceptives alone, or another form might be the best protective method for the two of you. The staff at SHAW would be happy to discuss your options, and they also provide a wide range of contraceptive products, either free or at a reduced cost.

Be safe and enjoy yourselves!

–The Sexpert


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