Recent studies have shown that Nonoxynol-9, the substance used in many brands of condoms, lubricants and creams as extra protection against pregnancy and STD's, may strip the inner lining of the rectum during anal sex, making it more prone to abrasions and open wounds. For gay men that participate in anal intercourse, this can pose serious health risks as tears in the rectal area increase the chances of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as well as other STD's. Now the golden rule of sex has changed from "Always use a condom!" to "Always use a condom without Nonoxynol-9!"
History of Nonoxynol-9
In the 1980s Nonoxynol-9 (or N-9) was introduced as an supplemental method of contraception. The liquid itself has been shown to kill the active sperm in semen, thus reducing the chance of pregnancy. The substance was also thought to battle STD's, even though it was never clinically proven. And since no contraception is 100% guaranteed, couples were still encouraged to use condoms in addition to N-9. Today, the inclusion of Nonoxynol-9 has become a "normal" and expected addition. Most gay men that engage in anal sex use lubricants with N-9.
Here are a few tips and frequently asked questions to help foster a healthy sex life:
Always use a condom without Nonoxynol-9 during intercourse.
Not only does a condom help protect you against sexually transmitted diseases, the use of them without Nonoxynol-9 can be an additional safeguard against contraction of HIV and other STD's.
Always ask your partner for his sexual history.
As a protection to yourself, it's important to know your partners' sexual history and their current STD and HIV status. It can seem a bit uncomfortable, especially in the heat of the moment, but a short moment of awkwardness is worth maintaining a healthy body. Surprisingly enough, direct questions work best in most situations. Ask them, "Are you positive?" "Do you have any other STD's?" "When was the last time you were tested and for what?" Of course, keep in mind that even if your partner responds with an "I'm clean" statement, you should still protect yourself and wear a condom.
Where can you find a condom without Nonoxynol-9?
Most of your local community centers and health clinics provide free condoms. If not, a few dollar at the drug store is worth your health.
How do I put on a condom?
Click here to learn how to put on a condom.