Tag Archives: Condom

Female Condoms: Difficult to find in the US, easy to get in UK.

Female condoms are an alternative to regular condoms. They provide pretty much the same great protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). What’s different about them? Instead of going on the penis, female condoms go inside your vagina for pregnancy prevention or into the vagina or anus for protection from STDs.

There are hundreds of different kinds of male condoms for sale in the US, but only one female condom and you need a prescription to get it. Female condoms are almost as effective as male condoms, so why are they so hard to find in the US?

At LASS, we’ve been providing female condoms for over 10 years, and when we mention them at our training events or offer them to individuals who test for HIV at LASS, they are often surprised at their existence.

The situation isn’t as bad in the UK compared to America as the above video from Vox describes but publication and awareness of female condoms isn’t as readily available as their male counterparts, (even in the UK) and we want to change that!

Female condoms have been around since the 1980’s, when a Danish doctor named Lasse Hessel came up with a prototype. However, the media ridiculed it, comparing it to a plastic bag.

Female condoms have never been marketed very well and stigma over a sexual health aid still hangs around to the point that in the US last year, the company that manufactures them stopped selling them in stores and changed to a prescription-only model, so indivuals in the states need to see a doctor, just to get a condom.

That’s backwards thinking and we say they are just as valid as male condoms to help prevent STIs (including HIV) Another excellent reason for using female condoms is they’re the only women -initiated method of planning and actively pursuing safer sex. Many say they’re preferable for anal sex too!

How do female condoms work?

Female condoms (also called internal condoms) are little nitrile (soft plastic) pouches that you put inside your vagina. They cover the inside of your vagina, creating a barrier that stops sperm from reaching an egg. If sperm can’t get to an egg, you can’t get pregnant. The female condom also helps prevent sexually transmitted infections.  Female condoms aren’t just birth control — they also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Female condoms help prevent STIs by covering the inside of your anus, vagina, and some parts of your vulva. This decreases your chance of coming in contact with semen or skin that can spread STIs.

Unlike in the United States as the above video shows, female condoms are becoming easier to find online, in stores, and at family planning centers. And you don’t need a prescription or ID to buy them. They’re a small, discreet, and portable way to get big protection from pregnancy and STDs.

We provide them freely at LASS, since all the other condoms out there are worn on a penis, many female condom fans love that there’s a condom they can control. Female condoms let you take charge of your sexual health. Even if your partner doesn’t want to wear a condom, you can still protect yourself.

You can also buy them online, here’s a couple of links from Amazon (Pasante) (Velvet)

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Condoms: Why are we still embarrassed about using them?

A new restaurant promoting safe sex and condom use has opened in the UK, but many people are still too embarrassed to even buy them – why?

As sex education goes, it’s pretty unconventional. Cabbages and Condoms is a Thai restaurant chain that serves food along with contraception. The name says it all.

Condoms are handed out to customers instead of after-dinner mints and each restaurant is covered in them – literally. Lights and walls are adorned with condoms, artworks are even made out of them.

All profits go into sex education and Aids prevention programmes in Thailand. Now it has opened its first branch outside Thailand, in the Oxfordshire town of Bicester.   Of all the towns in all the world, it’s not an obvious choice but in the UK many people are still too embarrassed to buy condoms in public and can’t even talk about sex “in a normal way”, say sex education charities.

So why are so many of us still so uncomfortable when it comes to condoms?

This awkwardness is enshrined in British popular culture. Songs like House of Fun by Madness sum up the awkwardness many feel when trying to buy condoms, with such lines as: “A toothbrush and hairspray, plastic grin. Mrs Clay on the corner has just walked in.”

Britain is a sexualised society where adult shops like Ann Summers can be found on many High Streets and condoms and lubricants of any number of flavours, textures and smells can be bought at your local chemist.

A survey by Fusion Condoms found 56% of people surveyed, were embarrassed to buy them. When it came to men, 54% got red faced while 57% of woman did.

Sexual health charities agree embarrassment is still a big issue for many people.

“We’re still so British about sex and condoms, many people find it easier to have sex rather than to talk about it,” says Genevieve Edwards, executive director of health improvement at the Terrence Higgins Trust.

“It’s a population-wide issue, something that doesn’t really change whatever sex or age. Buying condoms is a public declaration that you want sex and many people still aren’t comfortable with that.”

James, 48, from Surrey, is a successful businessman but still feels very awkward when buying condoms.

Figures at Cabbages and Condoms are covered with condoms. Image credit: Getty Images

“Let’s just say self-service tills have made life a lot less stressful,” he says.

“I will always use them rather than dealing with a person. I think my unease is something that lingers from my youth. Back then condoms and talking about sex were not done.”

The embarrassment factor has helped online retailers. The sellers range from commercial operations like Johnnys in a Jiffy to the NHS retailer Freedoms Shop.

In the four years since it was set up, myCondom.co.uk has seen sales increase month-on-month.

But customers still demand discretion. This can be for several reasons and embarrassment is one of them, says managing director Alex Green.

“A large part of the business is niche condoms,” he says. “We sell a lot of small-sized condoms and it’s obvious why someone might not want to buy them in a shop.

“Even online, people are still very concerned about avoiding embarrassment. We get a lot of enquiries about our packaging, some customers even ask for photos of what their order will be sent in.

“We use plain packaging because people make it very clear they don’t want something advertising what’s inside.

“We also get queries about what company name will appear on bank and credit card bills.

The British have a “strange range” of attitudes when it comes to condoms. It ranges from the absolute brazen to the acutely embarrassed and a lot more in between, says psychotherapist Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

“Buying condoms means you are having to be absolutely explicit about something many people want to be implicit about. You are having to admit you are planning to have sex or want to have it.”

Talking about using condoms is also something people struggle with, again regardless of age, according to the FPA (Family Planning Association).

It’s figures shows 61% of people find talking about condoms with a new sexual partner a difficult conversation to have. Of those, 70% find it embarrassing and 36% say it makes them less likely to use a condom.

Health professions say the obvious way to overcome this is better sex education in schools.

While some schools are doing a good job, others aren’t, and this means young people are often getting their information in the playground or on the internet.

“We all know the quality of that information,” says Edwards.

Hodson says condoms are just part of what young people need to be taught.

This condom, dating from the early 19th Century, is made of animal gut and is seen here with waxed paper envelope packaging

Even after the introduction of rubber condoms, some – like this late 19th century example – were still being manufactured from caecal membrane and silk

This rubber sheath, still in its original 1940s packaging, is made of “one piece of soft pliable rubber” and is designed to be reusable

This packet of one latex condom was issued to British troops on active service during WWII, and “withstands all climates”

“They need to be at ease dealing with them, but with that they also need to be taught that sex is powerful and can be an overwhelming thing and they need to think about what they are doing. All of that needs to be taken into account.

“We also need to get to parents and teach them how to talk to their children about sex.

“We need to get across that just because their children are educated about it and how to use a condom it doesn’t mean they are going to go out and have loads of sex.”

He says other countries, like Holland, are able to talk to young people about sex in a natural way, “without sniggering like the British often do”.

Katherine, 17, from Essex, says teenagers do talk about condoms, but nearly always in a joking way.  “I’m more likely to be hit in the head with a condom filled with water or get one taped to a birthday card than have a serious conversation about them,” she says.

“Young people tend to hide behind humour and make things funny so they’re not embarrassed.

“If you do need one you ask a close friend, you don’t often buy them. We’re given a lot of free condoms at safe sex talks. It saves embarrassment and money.”

In the Fusion survey it was 16 to 19 years olds who found buying condoms the most embarrassing – 65% of those asked said they found it difficult. But so did 57% of people between the ages of 20 and 30, and 50% of those aged over 31.

It shows people of all ages need just as much support as teenagers when it comes to sexual health, says Dr Audrey Simpson of the FPA.

“The problem is that we are preoccupied with the sexual behaviour of the young and consequently thirtysomethings are a forgotten generation in sexual health,” she says.

“They received little sex and relationships education at school but grew up in an increasingly sexualised society. They’ve had to find the confidence themselves to talk about condoms and learn the hard way.

“It’s not surprising that people can feel it’s easier not to use a condom than put themselves through the torture of talking about a subject they feel deeply uncomfortable about.”

At least in Bicester, embarrassment apparently hasn’t stopped people eating at the town’s new condom-themed restaurant.

Original Article via BBC Magazine

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Gay Pride 2012

We would like to say a big thank you to all volunteers, service users, mentors and staff for all of their hard work and support at Gay Pride and at the many different events throughout the year.

Every year, LASS hold a stall at Leicester Pride to promote equality and diversity, alongside our message of safer sex. It’s a chance to see our work in the community and meet our workers in a party atmosphere.

Our “Size-O-Meter” worked particularly well this year, and it was nice to talk about what matters sometimes – Size which is often, one of the least talked about characteristics when choosing a condom.

As many know, men aren’t built the same, and neither are condoms, too small, and the condom could be uncomfortable, too large, and it could slip off. (Large condoms can actually be more of a problem than small, because condoms are extremely stretchy and normally fit well). Still, most men will be much happier using condoms that fit well, and to facilitate that, condoms come in a range of sizes.

Have you measured your size? Always wanted to know? – Then download and print our Size-O-Meter and find out. Of course, this isn’t a scientific measurement it’s just for fun, just remember to stay safe, and feel comfortable in the rubber you’re in! This year, we gave out 1,300 condoms of various size which also included 100 novelty and 300 flavoured condoms.

Rapid HIV Testing Service

The city of Leicester has the fastest-rising HIV rate in the east Midlands and the sixth-highest in the country.

Meanwhile, in 2009/10, national research demonstrated that community testing was effective in delivering tests to those at risk, preventing late diagnosis and thereby reducing onward transmission. As there was no such community testing service in Leicester, we set about creating one! – Since it’s inception, we’ve tested almost 1000 people!

Unfortunately, we were unable to provide our award winning Rapid HIV Service on site, however we still offer this service on Regent Road.  If you’re interested in having a free test, you can drop in, informally or call to make an appointment (0116 2559995).  We’re available to test during normal working hours, it’s completely free, confidential and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test.

We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories. The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies.

We’re no stranger to festivals and events, we’ve danced at the Caribbean Carnival, we’ve rocked at the Summer Sundae, we attend Freshers Fairs, Football Tournaments, Gay Pride, Refugee Week and many many more!  We had a great day, promoting safer sex, listening to to good music, made more friends, and Henna tattooed anyone (over 16) who wanted one.

Thank you, once again to all the volunteers who made this day an excellent success, as it has been in our previous years.

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TRADE’s Pride 2011

Well done to TRADE Sexual Health after a very successful Gay Pride.

This year’s Leicester Gay Pride saw Trade Sexual Health join forces yet again with the Leicester GUM Clinic to present the Health & Wellbeing Marquee 2011!

They managed to launch their new and improved ‘Calling All Divas’ booklets, dedicating a whole stall to women’s sexual health.  Their new gay and bisexual men’s HIV support group ‘Hi’ V had its first outing, and we they also presented their new Kwik Prick rapid HIV testing service.  They had guests along from HMP Gartree, showing-off the ‘No Bars to Sexual Health’ joint project; Swanswell  Alcohol, Drug and Support Services; Stop Smoking; Leicestershire HIV services; and also Nuffield Gym to keep you all in shape, feeling fit and looking good.

The Rainbow Asian Project’s (RAP) findings had their first public showing within Leicester, giving everyone an opportunity to see how we can improve sexual health services for gay Asian men, and as always they had a huge amount of goodies and freebies to give away!

They handed out 700 Trade goodie bags and had a whole stall dedicated to condoms – some even glow in the dark to help you find whatever you’re looking for! They gave out roughly 2,000 free condoms to those present on the day, not including the 1,100 we gave away in our Diva and condom packs.

Via TRADE news letter (Website)