DISCLAIMER: Do not read this article if you are a prude, easily offended or a member of my family. I will not discuss my sex life with you. Everything was done in the name of research.
Asking a guy to put a condom on can really ruin the mood. He says it will feel better without it, and you don’t want to interrupt the passion. But a child out of wedlock and/ or a possible STD are your only other options. When he finally agrees to wrap up, laying his method of contraception on the bed, you realise that the only thing missing from this scene is some bread, cheese and ham.
An alarmingly strange survey of 1,500 British women aged 25-34 by Bayer Healthcare, showed that people are using cling film, sandwich bags and latex gloves as contraception instead of condoms or other methods like, I don’t know, not having sex until you can find some contraception that didn’t come from your kitchen?
The survey asked the women whether they had heard of the following items being used as an alternative to a condom:
- Cling film
- Plastic bag
- Latex glove
- Sandwich bag
- Chicken skins
- None of the above
Most of those asked hadn’t heard of any of the methods above being used. But over a quarter of the respondents had. That’s hundreds of women, one of whom could be your mother, girlfriend or sister. And even though they were only asked if they had heard about these methods and not if they had actually used them, if you know someone who knows someone who’s done it, you still deserve a side eye because you are the company you keep.
As an upstanding member of the community who always aims to protect herself, I wanted to know three things:
- What type of people were doing this?
- What else could I use if I didn’t have a condom?
- What would happen If I tried any of the above methods?
Let’s start with number one.
The majority of the respondents were from the South East of England, which consists of lovely little counties like Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire. Second was London, followed by the North West which boasts areas rife with social deprivation like Liverpool, Bolton, Rochdale and Salford. Just under half of them were university educated. And 89% of them were from ‘any white background’.
Now, I’m not saying that white people walk around with chicken skins on their penises, but I would say that they’re generally more open when it comes to anything to do with sex. Like having sex with cars, shoving vegetables up their bums, or just sticking their really tiny penises into cash machines. That’s not to say Asians and African can’t be vulgar. There was that Japanese guy who removed, seasoned and served his genitals at a dinner party and some Nigerians have a thing for goats. So let’s just put it out there that everyone can get a little crazy.
1500 may sound like a statistically insignificant number when there are almost 30 million women in Britain. But a statistics expert told me that 1500 would be representative, with only a small chance of the results differing from the true population average. Still, I wanted to ask some sexual health advisors and representatives from Brook and the NHS whether using kitchen contraceptives was the norm. They told me they didn’t have any surveys on this, and it was quite an uncommon but not an unheard of occurrence. Most people were clued up, and they were yet to remove cling film from a woman or watch someone give birth to a plastic bag. Those who did mention the cling film method were generally young, uneducated and from the precariat class.
This echoes a comment Peter Greenhouse, a sexual health consultant, made in 2004 claiming that such practices were common in the UK’s poorest areas, where teenagers have been turned away from sexual health clinics due to lack of staff. He said:
The use of crisp packets and cling film is something anyone who has been working in sexual health for any period of time knows. These young people are so poverty stricken they cannot even afford the bus fare to get into town, so how can they afford condoms?
Which brings me to point number two.
What else could I use If I didn’t have a condom?
Yahoo Answers provides a great source of entertainment and information at a time like this. After Googling numerous variations of “What can I use instead of a condom?”, I found some very worrying posts.
It was encouraging to see that people turned to Yahoo to provide them with answers. And there were some really good replies. But what’s even better than advice from an internet doctor is Durex’s emergency condom service.
Last year Durex launched a new app and trial service in Dubai that delivered condoms quickly and discreetly to people who wanted to have sex. The service was called SOS condoms and allowed users to place an order between the hours of 4pm and 4am ( Peak sex times in Dubai), in case of an emergency.
Using a GPS, the condoms are delivered within an hour by a ‘professional’ dressed as a pizza delivery man, tourist or a police officer, without your husband/wife noticing. Because you have to be married to have sex in Dubai right?
Now before you frantically search on iTunes for this app, let’s just stop to look at some interesting facts.
The couples in the video above are not wearing wedding bands. Premarital sex is banned in Dubai so obviously somebody didn’t do their research.
Another couple in the video are shown in a public display of affection, which is also banned in the country. And when I say banned I don’t mean smoking on a British train platform and getting disapproving looks. I mean a prison sentence, stoning and deportation. This is the same country that charged a woman with premarital sex when she reported that she was raped after all. So if I were having sex in Dubai I wouldn’t want anyone to know! Let alone some random strangers who apparently work for Durex…
Unfortunately the trial was unsuccessful and the app as well as SOS’ website have vanished into obscurity. Not before 12k people downloaded it and voted the heavily-Muslim city Batman in Turkey as the official launch location of SOS.
But the condom delivery idea isn’t a new one. Apparently there was a service in Harvard in 1985, and a student from The College of New Jersey set up his own emergency condom service last year. There’s also this woman in Kenya who launched a delivery service after some of her friends died of AIDS, too embarrassed to buy condoms. Her service includes having the barrier device delivered to you in a limo, decorated with red flowers, which is totes not embarrassing.
I do understand this whole shame thing though. It’s like being African, Christian, teenage and pregnant. You’re not embarrassed that you’ve got a bun in the oven, you’re embarrassed that people know you’ve been having sex.
Since my first visit to a sexual health clinic, my underwear drawer has been home to a treasure trove of condoms. From ribbed to glow in the dark, warming condoms, edible condoms, spearmint tingling condoms, pleasure shaped condoms, bacon-flavoured condoms and all these other amazing attributes you would want your penis to naturally have.
Have I ever paid for a condom? Absolutely not! Would I ever pay for one? Not as long as my salary is lower than my age. I visit a sexual health clinic every 3-6 months and each time I return with a goodie bag full of rubber protection.
When I was at university, I signed up for a condom card, also known as a C-Card, which gave me the power to waltz into any Superdrug and demand as many condoms as I wanted. For fear of looking like a mega slut I never did this, but I knew I could if I wanted to.
So why doesn’t everyone have a C-card you ask? Well, maybe because it’s not as straightforward as it could be.
How do I get a C-Card?
- Find a c-card registration point. Most cities in the UK have some sort of scheme and London has the ‘Come Correct’ programme, which for some reason isn’t available in the boroughs of Barnet, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, City of Westminster, Southwark, Newham, Greenwich and Wandsworth, where people are expected to buy their own condoms.
- You will register, giving a health professional your personal details, before she tells you about all the aspects of condom use. Including topics like:
– R u ready
– Peer pressure
– Self esteem
– Confidence building
– Why, When and how condoms should be used
– What to do if it all goes wrong
Which to me sounds like sitting through a condom seminar. Because what do you really need to know? You put it on, stick it in and pull it out. Right? And that’s not all. If you’re too scared to talk to a human being, you can complete the C-Card online assessment. And if you answer all the questions correctly, you will be awarded with a certificate which you can show off with pride, as proof of your eligibility to receive free condoms.
Once you are a verified condom user, you can pick them up at places like Superdrug, Boots, or anywhere else in the UK a C-Card sticker is displayed. Then depending on your area’s scheme, under 16’s can get 12 condoms six times and over 16’s 10 times, before you have to re-register and give feedback on how condoms are working out for you. Some places even let you choose the type of condom. It’s just like shopping.
I asked my friends on Facebook about these alternative methods, and they unanimously agreed that you would have to be stupid, desperate or both to use or even consider using kitchen contraceptives. Because despite all the embarrassment of buying cock socks and the longness of C-Cards, condoms aren’t that hard to get. In fact we have so many condoms in this country we’re using them as cereal box toys!
So we’re definitely not running out of rubbers any time soon. Not like in Cuba, where a shrinking supply of condoms is worrying health officials, concerned by the possibility of an increase in STDs and unwanted pregnancies. One of the worst affected areas is Santa Clara, which already has one of the highest rates of HIV on the island. Juan Carlos Gonzales, director of the condom supplier Ensume, told the Guardian that there were more than a million condoms in the company’s warehouse. They were just technically out of date.
In 2012 the government decided that the expiration year on the condoms, which was 2012, was incorrect and came to the conclusion that they should be relabelled for expiration in 2014. Gonzalez said factory workers could only repackage 1,440 strips of three condoms per day while the demand in some areas was 5,000 daily. The ensuing backlog reduced the number of available condoms and increased the price of one from a few cents to about $1.50, a day’s earnings for the average Cuban.
I asked Miriam Celaya, a Cuban journalist, what Cubans were using during this time of crisis and whether kitchen contraceptives were an international trend. She explained that the most common alternative to condoms in Cuba are not using any:
In reality, for Cubans who need protection for sex, it would be very difficult to depend on sandwich bags (not everyone can afford a sandwich) and, in any case, they never come in bags, nor do they use materials like cling film or plastic. As a result, the most common outcome is that they practice sex without protection, especially the youth, who can be quite irresponsible. On the other hand, for sure, sometimes condoms are scarce, but you can get them on the black market or through foreign friends who bring them to Cuba to help.
Fancy that! Instead of asking my British friends to bring me some Earl Grey, I’m asking them for sperm collectors.
Head across the Caribbean Sea into Columbia, where they like using condoms to transport cocaine via the oesophagus into the stomach, and we have a potato growing inside a 22-year-old woman’s vagina. She had inserted it to prevent pregnancy on the advice of her mother. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any pictures, but it probably looked something like this:
This shortage is not only taking place in Cuba, some African countries are facing a condom crisis too.
- It was discovered in 2013, that Namibia’s Ministry of Health were running out of free condoms.
- A volunteer counsellor in Sudan revealed in 2013 that the ministry hadn’t received any supplies of condoms from UN agents for almost a year.
- Uganda has also suffered from condom shortage in the past. Vastha Kibrige, the country’s condom coordinator (yes this is an actual job title) told the BBC in 2004 that 10 million condoms were stuck in a warehouse awaiting inspection after people complained about a funny smell. She told Uganda’s New Vision paper that they only had 5 million condoms at the moment, enough for two months of sex.
While millions of people in Africa and the Caribbean face a crisis, artists like Christiaan Nagel and Adriana Bertini are using hundreds of condoms for art. Nagel’s exhibition was shown in Hoxton this August and featured giant blow up fish made out of condoms, which appear to be breaking through the floor of the gallery.
Even stranger is the condom dress which was on tour in Australia this year. Originally conceived by Brazilian artist Bertini, who runs the Condom Couture Campaign, creating dresses from expired or defective condoms to promote safe sex amongst youngsters. The blueprint has been exported, and community groups in New South Wales, Australia are getting together to stick condoms on mannequins.
Head back to Africa and we have OAPs in Zimbabwe using the country’s limited free condoms for arthritis! Elderly Zimbabweans claim that rubbing a condom on arthritic joints brings relief, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this. Though this is the same country where some people believe that having sex with a baby or a virgin can cure aids, so rubbing a condom on your knees doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
What is far-fetched is the question that I posed to one of my closest friends, who I’m sure thinks I’m an absolute nut-job but accepts me anyway. I know people on Facebook and Google have told me that kitchen contraception is a bad idea, but just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true. And people on Facebook aren’t really your friends are they? They’re just some guys you happened to go to school with like 20 years ago, you only like their posts because they could go on the X Factor one day and get famous. And you want to keep them as mates so you can sell their pics to The Sun.
So because of that I thought, I’m going to have to try this myself. I’m going to have to find out how it feels to have a cling-filmed penis inside of me.
First I had to find a guy to have sex with me, which not boasting but wasn’t that difficult. Then I had to ask him to have sex with me up to six times, which would also be a walk in the park. The hard part was convincing him to put chicken skins on his penis. As well as the fact that I was sure some family members would read this, and I didn’t really want to advertise the fact that I was having sex for research purposes and not for love or reproduction.
In the end I managed to persuade a friend to try these methods out with a girl who is obsessed with him. I’m sure you’re dying to know what happened. So I’m going to present it like a Key Stage 5 science report.
To find out how effective kitchen contraceptives are and what they feel like.
Place the items onto your erect penis one at a time and insert into a woman’s vagina. The honey is rubbed inside the woman’s vagina.
The Cling film method
- It can get awfully sticky with all that semen swimming around in the clingy cling film. Wear gloves when removing.
- Doesn’t feel as bad as it sounds. In fact I’ve been advised to try it, combined with the pull-out method of contraception.
- One size fits all.
- It feels similar to a condom, but you would have to have very modest sex in order for it not to unravel inside of you.
The plastic bag/ sandwich bag method
- Your dick isn’t big enough for an orange Sainsbury’s bag, and even wrapping it around a few times will make your body scream “Unexpected item in bagging area!”
- When I asked my friend what it felt like he replied, “feels like a bag on my penis”.
- It did manage to catch some escaping sperm though…
The crisp packet method
- Unless you wash that shit out with Dettol, someone is getting salt and vinegar in their genitals.
- Not comfortable for anyone, particularly the female.
- Described as ‘someone scratching the walls of your cervix’.
- Great barrier method of birth control, because no-one is cumming after that experience.
The latex glove method
- The good thing is you can use it five times.
- The bad thing is you have to have a small penis, and everyone knows small penises are no fun.
- It may look odd, but it feels like a normal condom and does collect sperm.
- Do not try if you don’t enjoy friction burn.
The honey method
- It’s just a mess. And now I’ve been sent an £25 invoice for new Ikea bedsheets.
The chicken skin method
- The smell of sex mixed with chicken is not pleasant.
- And lets just say I will never eat chicken again. Chicken has been ruined for me.
- The latex glove method is the best of the worst of the alternatives to condoms.
- Packets of crisps, sandwich bags, cling film and plastic bags will suck all the fun out of sexual intercourse . Tried and tested. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t feel good.
- Food is for eating, not for rubbing on, sticking in or wrapping around your genitals.
- Someone is likely to get pregnant from my experiment.
- There’s a lot of research going into condoms…
In 2005, German condom enthusiast Jan Vinzenz Krause created a prototype for a spray on condom made of latex. The device consisted of a hard plastic tube with nozzles that spray liquid latex from all directions, similar to the water jets in the tunnel of a car wash. According to Krause, there were many advantages to his spray-on condom. It fits 100% perfectly, so the safety is much higher than a standard condom’s, and it feels more natural. Yet he fails to mention that it looks and probably feels like a reverse cum shot.
Unfortunately the spray on condom was shelved as the 2-3 minutes drying time was quite a long time to wait and could either ruin the mood or result in abandonment of trying to apply a condom and unsafe sex.
There’s also the invisible condom, which the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) are trying to get approved. The invisible condom is a gel that hardens when inserted into a piping hot vagina or rectum. It cannot be felt by the woman or her partner and aims to block HIV and STDs.
The gel contains Tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug, which had previously been tested on monkeys, before scientists decided to try it out on a group of women in Africa. Their research involved rounding up 889 women between the ages of 18 and 40 who were sexually active and HIV-negative. Half of the women were given a gel that contained Tenofovir, and the other half were given a placebo. During the 30-month study period, 38 women using the tenofovir-containing gel contracted HIV, compared with 60 women who used the placebo gel. Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides, called the findings ‘encouraging and optimistic’, as the drug was shown to reduce HIV infections in women by 39 percent . And only a few medically fit participants contracted HIV, all in the name of research
We’ve also got one of the richest men in the world spending his money on condoms. Bill Gates announced at a question and answer session in September that progress was being made on developing a “next generation”, skin-like condom that could offer better sexual pleasure and help population control. He’s throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at scientists, so barely-there condoms may be coming to a store near you sooner than you think. His wife excitedly shared the news that their foundation was also creating a sperm killing, lozenge-like contraceptive tablet, that women can place inside their fannies. Don’t you just love the Gates.
- If you’re ever carrying out any sexually related type of research, do not do it on your own computer. You will get a virus . I had to delete my search history dating back to August and literally throw away my laptop. I’m not joking. I actually had to get a new one because of a virus I caught looking up things like: “strange sexual activities in south east Asia”, “goat sex” and “cum shots”. Whenever I started typing anything into Google, even the most innocent things, the suggestions were just outrageous and incredibly incriminating.
And let me just put this out there, I am not obsessed with condoms. I do like condom jokes though.