I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a few months, and we just started having sex. I was a virgin when we started going out, but he is a lot more experienced. We used protection, but he only put the condom on at the end, after we already started having sex. Is that normal? In health class, they said that you can get pregnant from pre-cum, but he told me it’s actually a really small chance. He also said it feels better without a condom, which is why he didn’t want to put it on at the start. Are both of those things true? I wanted to make sure.
—Should I Be Concerned?
Thanks for writing in! There are no stupid questions when it comes to sex, so it’s important not to discount your own knowledge. A lot of people who are less experienced than their partners tend to doubt themselves when it comes to sexual expertise, but try to trust your gut (and what you learned in health class!).
Anyhow, your boyfriend is sort of right and sort of wrong. Putting a condom on at the end is essentially equivalent to the withdrawal method, or the “pull-out” method. According to Planned Parenthood, for couples who use the pull-out method perfectly every time over the course of a year, 4 percent of women will become pregnant. For couples who don’t always use it correctly, 27 percent will become pregnant. Although there is a chance that a small amount of sperm would be present in the pre-ejaculate (or pre-cum) it’s unlikely to make you pregnant, especially if your partner urinates before having sex. However, even though you say your boyfriend is “a lot more experienced” than you are, you two probably don’t have enough experience having sex with each other to use the method correctly every time— it can be pretty difficult to predict exactly when your partner is going to ejaculate.
You wrote in because of concern with pregnancy, but remember that there is a chance of STI infection unless you wear a condom the whole time. Last week’s column talked about STIs at Princeton— cases do exist on campus!
As far as sex feeling better without a condom: Sadly, this may be true for your boyfriend. Every person is different, and some people feel more reduced pleasure than others. If this is a problem for the two of you, you have a few options. One would be to experiment with different brands and styles of condoms— there are so many varieties that there’s something out there for everyone! Another option, if you two are planning to be sexually exclusive, would be to use hormonal birth control. You could both go to McCosh and get STI testing (it’s only $14 for a test for gonorrhea and chlamydia, so no need to worry about putting it on your parents’ insurance). There are also a lot of kinds of hormonal birth control out there, and the staff at Sexual Health and Wellness can talk to you about what the best option is for you. And despite the rumors, you don’t have to get a pelvic exam before you can be prescribed birth control (although you can get one if you want!)
Good luck with everything, and remember to always communicate!