Sex
Not using condoms in a relationship still comes with risks.

Here’s What You Should Know About Not Using Condoms In A Relationship

Unprotected sex *always* has risks.

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Deciding to stop using condoms with your partner is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly. While there are a lot of risks associated with forgoing barrier protection, there may come a time when the two of you decide together that you are ready to take this step. Not using condoms in a relationship can be safe if done properly, but there are still a few risk factors to take into account. Sex changes after you stop using condoms, after all, and before you decide to go raw, you should be aware of those changes.

If you’re using an alternate method of birth control, such as a birth control pill or IUD, then a condom may seem unnecessary for preventing pregnancy. However, condoms are the best way to reduce your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you’re in a monogamous sexual relationship where you’ve both been tested recently, there is still a greater risk involved when you decide to forgo barrier contraception.

And while it’s commonly believed that condom-less sex is “more intimate,” as there is no physical barrier between you and your partner, Good Clean Love founder and psychosexual therapist Wendy Strgar previously told Elite Daily that intimacy often has more to do with feeling protected than feeling physically connected. “Feeling safe when we have sex is a huge element of being able to let go and relax into the experience,” she said. “Agreeing on what that safety means to both people in the couple builds confidence.”

If you and your partner make a mutual decision to say goodbye to condoms, then here’s how sex may change for you two.

01
Sex Will Have An Increased Risk Of STIs
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If you’re on the pill or have an IUD, you can still get STIs, as hormonal birth control does not protect against them like condoms do. As Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women's health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period., previously explained to Elite Daily, condoms are the best way to help prevent sexually transmitted infections during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. This is true in monogamous relationships, too, since not everyone is aware of their STI status, and some infections — like human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) — aren’t always obvious.

According to Dr. Ross, condoms can help reduce your risk of contracting HPV, HSV, and HPV-related cervical cancer, which are typically contracted typically through sexual, skin-to-skin contact. "Most people don’t know they carry HPV or aware they have an early HSV outbreak on their genitals,” she said. “Using a condom and religiously practicing safe sex will help prevent you from being exposure to these contagious viruses.” Other than using condoms, the best way to protect yourself from HPV is to get the vaccine.

02
Sex Will Have An Increased Risk Of Pregnancy

If you have a vagina and you're having sex with someone who can get you pregnant, then you know the importance of using contraception. Dr. Laura Alsina-Sanchez, an OB-GYN at Partners in Women's Health, previously told Elite Daily it’s ideal to use two types of birth control if you really want to play it safe. "The only way to reliably prevent pregnancy is consistent condom use and hormonal contraception," Dr. Alsina-Sanchez said. The copper IUD, which is a non-hormonal birth control method, is also considered over 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

Considering that condoms are only 85% effective at preventing pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood, they shouldn't be your only resource. Using an additional form of birth control with condoms can give you extra peace of mind, but if you decide to go without barrier contraceptives, then using alternate means of birth control becomes more essential than ever. Be sure to educate yourself on various contraceptive methods and their effectiveness at preventing pregnancy.

According to Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman, board certified OB-GYN, you can also use the pull-out method as an extra source of contraception in addition to the pill. Be wary, though, as about one in five people get pregnant when using the pull-out method on its own, per Planned Parenthood. The pullout method is not reliable by itself, but it can be paired with a more effective method like the birth control pill to minimize your chances of getting pregnant.

03
Sex May Not Last As Long

When you and your partner forgo condoms, you won’t have to worry about that extra logistical step of procuring and putting on protection. However, while logistics may take less time, it’s also possible the sex doesn’t last as long. According to Planned Parenthood, condoms can delay ejaculation, so when you go without them, the partner who typically wore the condom will likely come more quickly than usual.

Although penetration certainly isn't the only way to feel satisfied in bed, Dr. Ross told Elite Daily that longer and more intense orgasms for people with vaginas are often a product of going slow and steady, which is harder with a condom. "Foreplay becomes the key ingredient to success and allowing yourself to have a more intense and prolonged orgasm," she said. "This is an important statistic that I wish everyone understood so no one felt pressured to come together or quickly." To make sure both partners have their needs met, foreplay may become even more important than it was before.

04
Sex Will Be Messier
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If having sex without a condom changes the pregame a bit, it has even more of an effect on the postgame. Whether you attempt the pull-out method or not, your partner’s ejaculate is likely not going to end up where you want it when you don’t use a condom. “The partner with the penis cannot always control when they are going to ejaculate,” Kelly J. Connell, M.S. Ed. and sexuality expert for My First Blush, told Elite Daily. “Many times, they think they can control it and then they cannot pull out in time and ejaculate inside their partner.”

And even when your partner comes inside of you, you’ll likely still experience plenty of discharge after sex. With a condom, most (if not all) of that semen is captured, so you don’t have to worry as much about clean-up.

05
Sex May Make You Feel Emotionally Closer To Your Partner

Going bareback doesn’t automatically make sex more intimate, but after you stop using condoms, conversations around safe sex become even more essential. As sex writer and sexpert Kayla Lords previously told Elite Daily, “It's not necessarily about wearing the condom — it's about having the conversation about sexual health and protection.” Once you and your partner ditch condoms, it becomes more important than ever for you to talk about regular STI testing, alternate methods of birth control, and how you might react if either you or your partner contracted an STI or became pregnant.

According to Lords, once you can openly discuss sexual safety, “it's much easier to talk about how you like to be touched, what kind of sex you want to have, and what feels good to you — all topics that can be difficult to broach and that all impact the level of intimacy you experience with a partner.” So while eliminating condoms doesn’t make sex more physically intimate, going without them may make you feel closer to your partner emotionally.

06
Sex May Not Feel As Relaxed

On the other hand, having sex without condoms may actually make the experience less pleasurable, as the potential risks may prevent you from being able to enjoy yourself. As Lords previously explained, “Any sex that involves worry about the future outcomes is the opposite of intimate. If your fear about sex without a condom is ‘what if,’ what you're not focusing on is how good, relaxed, or satisfied you feel before, during, or after sex.”

Strgar said pleasure is particularly hard to come by if either you or your partner is wary about not using condoms. “The consequences of unprotected sex, whether disease transmission or unwanted pregnancy, can have long-lasting impacts on your life. I don't think any sex is worth risking your health and future over,” she said. “And being asked or demanded to take that risk by someone who you are thinking about having sex with is anything but intimate. Unprotected sex that you're pressured into, coerced into, or made to feel guilty about is never worth it. Add possible and unknown risks, and the situation becomes even worse.”

Every couple must decide for themselves whether they’re comfortable forgoing condoms, but if you’re only doing it because it’s what your partner wants, then you probably want to reconsider the risks.

Experts:

Wendy Strgar, Good Clean Love founder and psychosexual therapist

Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women's health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period.

Dr. Laura Alsina-Sanchez, OB-GYN at Partners in Women's Health

Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman, board certified OB-GYN

Kelly J. Connell, M.S. Ed. and sexuality expert for My First Blush

Kayla Lords, sex writer and sexpert

Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.