Wise Guys: Is Sex With a Condom Really All That Bad?

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: Okay, so how different is intercourse with a condom? What does it feel like? Do different kinds of condoms make a difference?

Straight Married Guy (Fred): It’s different.  It’s not as good.  Think pancakes without the syrup.  Scratching an itch with the palm of your hand.  A foot massage while wearing slippers.  “American Idol” without Adam Lambert.  It’s still okay, just not great.  It can be frustrating for guys because everything else about the experience is vivid but where it really counts it is dull.  And we know what it feels like au natural.  Different types of condoms definitely make a difference.  Anything that says super-thin, ultra-thin, sensitive, etc., are usually waaaay better than your regular, cheap, vending-machine rubbers.  Sometimes you have to use them.  If you’re dating, it’s obviously a must.  Ladies, if you’re buying, do him the favor of getting the thin, high quality ones.  And remember, the more excited he is, the less he’ll be distracted by the lack of feeling, so getting a little naughtier than usual can really help.

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I’m an exclusive bottom, so I had to e-mail hundreds of — er, a few past sexual partners to ask them.  The general consensus was that it’s different but not by a whole lot.  With a condom you have less sensation (“33% less,” said one when I asked) but you last longer (I didn’t ask, but the obsessive-compulsive in me has decided that it’s 33% longer), so it’s kind of a trade-off.  Thin condoms are better, apparently, and polyurethane condoms are by far the best (though they’re more expensive).  All the men surveyed said that condoms felt better when they were having sex with me than with other partners.

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): It’s very different. Basically, it sucks. But not in a good way. What is it like? It’s like getting a massage with a sweater on. It’s like watching a movie with the sound off. I guess a way to describe it to a woman is that it’s like having sex with a guy with a really small penis. It’s sex…but not really. If you have to wear one (and you definitely should if you’re having casual sex), thinner condoms are better, and it helps to find one that fits right.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish.To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Very nice article , Thanks for sharing. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website.

  2. Obviously if you’re engaging in casual sex you should use a condom, but that said, bare sex feels so much better!! There’s just something so sexy about knowing there is nothing in between, you can feel the head of his penis more, and instead of the somewhat muted sensations you get with a condom, you can feel your man’s cock instead of just rubber and its awesome! I lubricate a lot more than is necessary but just feeling a man slide inside with nothing on…theres nothing like it. I’ve only ever had unprotected sex with 2 men, coincidentally (or maybe not) they are the only 2 men i have ever loved.

  3. I’m a girl. I always found condoms make me feel dry, and I lose the mood, and sex becomes a chore. It frustrates both me and my partner. I’m considering the shot now because sex with a condom just doesn’t work with me.

  4. I just can’t stand them. Sometimes I will lose erection and rip it off and then do it anyways yet luckily I have no STDS. However, I no longer really have any drive to go out and get “strange” from girls my own age, even though they are extremely beautiful (I am 23) because I am scared that I am going to get some random floosy pregnant, or get STD’s myself. About 90% of my experiences end up with the condom off, and I used to be really good at pulling out, but now it is going so long I have no confidence I will not explode uncontrollably. Last time I did it I had to buy the girl a morning after pill because I half came inside of her! That was just kind of awkward and strange to do. I guess now I’m looking for the real thing, and I hate to say it but if she’s against birth control, it might not work out.

  5. Have you ever like been to the movies then right when you get to the good part it breaks down?!!!? Well that’s how it feels with the condom like he is getting all sexy and dirty then I saw an ad for condoms and I told him that I wouldn’t have sex unless we used these. I’m proud of myself! But I do missvthr dirty felleling I used to get when he really had his penis in there!! Thanks so much for the article!!

  6. I really don’ t know abot this but sex is better without the condom and I know it is safer but it is waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy more sexy to go without it! I just love the way it feels without the condom but we still use it!

  7. OMG!!! I always thought that there was no differace. Now I know what to get!! Thanks so much for these articals!

  8. Ultrathin condoms also give the female more feel–there is less of a (literal) rubber feeling inside and once things get going, you almost forget that he has a condom on!!

  9. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 months now and he has brought up the issue of sex without a condom MANY times. I do not want to have sex without one, for fear of an unwanted pregnancy. When we first had sex, we used the generic condoms and everything was okay. Recently,we tried the ultrathin condoms, which he said he LOVED, because it gave him more sensation. He has had issues with maintaining his erection after he puts the condom on, and that is something that we are currently working on. But for now, the high quality ultrathin condoms are a success. 🙂

  10. I think this depends on the guy. Some guys are ultra sensitive to condoms and lose their hard-on as soon as they try to put one on. Others seem to not think twice about them. As a woman, I don’t know how it feels for a guy but I love the nakedness which is the ultimate intimacy. I have only done that with 2 guys that I was closest to sexually before meeting my current boyfriend.

  11. Mr partner and I a few years ago had to use a condom and tried the female condom. Wow what a damn good idea that was. There was something about the way it was positioned in her vagina that made her go wild. She would climax in less thn a minute and scream the house down, it was such a turn on that even now when we do not need to use one we still do on occasion just for the fun and excitement of it.

  12. I’m not convinced for a single second that “Fred” is straight. He likes American Idol? And worse still, he puts Adam Lambert on a pedestal? The dude is as straight as his taste in music is good.

  13. having sex with condom is just ok for preventing pregnancy,STI’S AND HIV but u will never enjoy sex withsome artificial rubber like this however lubricated it may be.my GF like live sex coz it makes her feel relaxed.

  14. some of you people are ridiculous. your that selfish that you would rather get 20 minutes of pleasure and risk having a std or baby for life? is that worth your life? wake up and realize that you have to make sacrifices and if you truly love someone you will both understand the risk and care about each others futures. you can use a condom and still get off.

  15. Well i only had one sex partner. Both of us lost our virginity to each other so we were clean and i must say sex without a condom feels so much better but it is much more risky. But with a condom it doesn’t feel bad unless i use a thin one. If i use a regular condom then i don’t feel anything. i tend to stay erect because the heat of the moment but i had t “fake it” a lot because i find my self lasting for an hour at a time. And after that long it gets to get to tedious especially when my partner wasn’t up to try different positions and new things -_-

  16. I have sex with my partner and I am like 50% good, but like others said I lose a lot of sensation and have to pound away to get off. I think it’s more mental, I am not sure…

    It is actually causing me to get pretty frustrated and angry at times, plus my girlfriend is foreign and the language barrier makes it hard for me to communicate the issue without one of us getting mad.

    It is not fun. I get the purpose of condoms and get the draw back of the pill, but my sexual desires are not being met in my relationship and it is killing me.

  17. Sex with a condom is pointless no fun takes the risk out of it and it feels like nothing and you dont get off if you were ment to use condoms youd be born with a pack of condoms

  18. I love sex without a condom, it feels natural. It’s the full connection between you and your partner. I unfortunately caught an STD and I can say I’ll never go unprotected again. I lucked out and my STD was only Chlamydia and it’s gone away however, when the doctors told me they were afraid of other things and talked to me about HIV, the fact that I was even at risk has ruined me. the secure feeling that my partner is neither infected or pregnant is worth the lack of 33% of my pleasure.

  19. Forget condoms. They suck period. I would rather take my chances with STDs than have the act ruined by those nasty things.

  20. I tend to agree with John above. If you’re having sex with someone where the relationship REQUIRES a condom, you should probably reevaluate your relationship.If you’re married or monogamous, the depo shot is actually more effective than a condom at preventing pregnancy — condom not needed.

    Also, as mentioned above, hook up sex, at least in my experience, almost always turns out to be bad sex — or at least worse than sex comparable sex inside of a committed relationship would be. Why not just date the guy/girl full time if you like them enough to have sex? Is it really that fulfilling to hook up with ugly partners off the internet over and over again?

  21. If you are having sex with someone you need a condom with, you probably shouldn’t be having sex with them in the first place.

    1. Bad sex, if you can even get it in.

    2. You can still get herpes and genital warts. The fact you are fucking some random slut (hence, the condom) means she is more likely to have those.

  22. I dunno…I don’t have much trouble getting off when a guy is using a condom, and he seems to be very much enjoying himself (and the guys always come back for seconds)… people here are talking like it’s life or death! I’m glad I’ve practiced safe sex from the start so that I’m quite comfortable orgasming with a condom-it doesn’t feel foreign.

  23. Trust me, condoms are better than taking poison aka nasty antibiotics for the STDs after contracting Epididmytis. Use a condom, get over yourself and fuck hard!

  24. What’s all the deal with worrying about “The Mess?” It’s approximately 10cc of seminal fluid. Usually between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. It isn’t a huge deal.

    Condoms are good for birth control and disease prevention, and I wholly support the use of them for many people. But, some people simply have no need for them anymore, due to other forms of BC, latex allergies, actually wanting to conceive a child etc.

    “The Mess” isn’t something I can get too worried about. Grab a couple of Kleexex and it isn’t a big deal. (Shrug)

  25. Silly question for the women who don’t use condoms:
    How do you deal with the mess after? It’s probably obvious but I just can’t think of a practical way…

  26. Three months ago I started exclusively dating a man and we were having unprotected sex and it was amazing…recently however, I was told by my doctor that I had HPV when I went to get my routine annual exam results. I was shocked! I had never had an abnormal test result..ever. So, after treatment, which was uncomfortable and expensive, my doctor suggested we use condoms. Well, last night was the first time and it wasn’t the best feeling in the world. nothing compares to the sensation of him not having a condom on. But if it means that my risk of having the procedure done again and not ending up with cervical cancer, then so be it. Staying cancer-free is more important.

  27. I’ve only had one sexual partner (we’re still together) and we’re both clean so I was on the progestogen only pill which meant we didn’t use condoms for nearly 5 years. However, hormonal birth control is no longer an option for me (extra oestrogen puts me at a very high risk of having a stroke, and extra progestogen gives me depression, complete loss of sex drive, constant headaches and unmanageable periods which basically meant we were never able to have sex) so had sex last night for the first time in nearly 5 years using a condom. I was shocked to find I actually prefered it (although maybe because I no longer have the artifical hormones sapping my sex drive?) and my boyfriend said whilst it didn’t feel quite as good as without a condom, it was still amazing and far better than no sex at all.
    It was also nice not having to deal with the mess.
    I say woohoo for condoms!

  28. Condoms are horrible. I’ve been married to my wife for 15 years and she is totally against me getting snipped so I still have to wear a rubber. There are many times that I can’t even get off because she is so wet and, well, we have children so things aren’t as tight as they were when we were younger. There are times I just avoid having sex because I don’t want the frustration of having a condom ruin things.

  29. if you dont like condoms …then okay but i had sex with condoms multiply times and its better for me because i can relax and know im leaving how i came -Std free and no kids

  30. I you’re having sex with a condom on,the condom is in the vagina and your cock is it the condom,so you’re really fucking the condom,not the women,you’d be better off wanking with a condom on your cock or using a rubber kitchen glove,just think about kiss for a moment,you wouldn’t kiss a women between a sheet of glass,but it’s not different it’s still a barrier,you’d be better off having a long term partner and both getting tested instead unless you have a rubber fetish of course.

  31. hi jazmin. yea condoms do suck, but dnt be tempted by not using 1. all it takes is 1 time and “bosh” u got a little 1. jst try more for-play and try put new things. really turn him on. dress up, things like that.
    hope this helps. anyone else want help from a male mind, add me if you want. and u can as well jazmin and i will try and help you more.

  32. My bf..when he tries to wear a condom..his erection goes down, and im still young and i dont wanna have unprotected sex with him because i dont want to get pregnant, but it is soo tempting but i WANNA STOP!…i just want advice in how could i still make him stay hard while hes putting a condom on

  33. Condoms do suck.. but suck more for men then for women.. why? well think about it.. the guy is wearing it so theres hardly any friction sensation.. women get the benefit of being safe while still feeling the friction from sex.. its just not fair… especially since we get called jerks for it

  34. To respond to all of those comments about the foreskin not moving….My foreskin is filled up all the way and tight…there is no movement with or without condoms. As for the condom reducing the feeling….yes, but not enough to bother me. I would say only about 25% reduction in sensation.

  35. the only guy I’ve ever been with who truly complained about condoms and said “little . . . . don’t wanna play” was an asshole. I’ve seen a lot more of what Kayla mentioned-guys who realize that since, hey, a baby would be awful right now, probably better get on the rubber action.

  36. I hate condoms. Little Jay dont wanna come out and play. The sad part is I have to suffer through condoms EVEN if Im in a monogamous relationship and even if Im extremely supportive with helping my partner deal with the side effects of other contraceptives. Anal used to alleviate the stress and frustration I felt whenever another shrinking incident occurred. But unfortunately, that too is now off the table…

    What’s a guy to do eh.

  37. Actually, @videodude, you can use the “female condom” for anal sex. I put this in quotes because there used to be an identical one marketed to gay men–same device, different name. It’s been a while, I can’t remember what they called it. But Dan Savage frequently recommends the female condom for anal sex, and I’d reckon he’d know . . .

  38. The female condom is the solution. If no one is selfish, each of you has much more sensation by each taking turns wearing a condom. He wears one for her and she wears one for him. Each partner has a session with fairly diminished sensitivity and one session with a not-so-diminished sensitivity.

    Planning ahead for an unknown spontaneous moment and practicing the quick application of said condom are keys, too.

    My wife and I are kinsey 3 on the bi-sexual scale and we have an open marriage. Condoms are required but that doesn’t mean a guy can’t go bareback in a female condom. Unfortunately the condom makers haven’t come up with a condom for the anus. Again, to share the experience.

    It works for us. The solution seems so very simple, but so few seem to take action to make it happen. Why?

  39. I’m quite sure that if there were a survey done, the outcome would most definetely be more males as well as FEMALES that would say sex does FEEL better without a condom.

    Dito on what Evan said.
    I am exclusive with my bf’s however we do use condoms sometimes. I Use a lubricant called Pjure Erose, and it’s the closest thing next to not wearing a condomn at all. I recommend it to those who express extreme displeasure with wearing condoms, trust me, you’ll like it, and will be surprised at mirrored contrast of being “bareback” to using the product wit your condoms.

  40. Condoms have always spelt disaster for me. I’m a circumcised straight male, and I have never yet had a partner where sex with a condom was fun. At best, and with lots of concentration and fantasising, I can just about get there, but 95% of the time, no perceptible sensation, no fun, just the humiliation of a very deflating experience. I’d truly rather not attempt it than have another condom catastrophe. Worst experience ever was when a gf accidentally bought some ‘delay’ condoms with added anaesthetic to slow you down – I was so numb that I couldn’t raise more than a smile for 2 days!

    I know they’re necessary, but do they prevent STIs – probably not – they just force you to get your jollies by other, less safe means.

  41. the only good things about condoms are;
    no babies
    no STI’s
    no mess

    Ulimately use of condoms depends on the type of relationship you have with the person your having sex with & the individuals personal preference.

    Currently I’m clean, my boyfriend is clean and another means of birth control is in place. So I dont see the point of cheating myself or my partner out of increased arousal & pleasure.


  42. Of course sex without condoms would feel better for both of us. But so much better that it would warrant me pumping hormones through my body with a pill every day? Doubt it.

  43. For me its all about the proper fit and lubrication.
    I use Trojan Magnums and they are very lubricated – but for the woman’s sake I also use a really good lubricant like Cool Touch KY, which is very ‘slippery’ and also edible.
    Using condoms helps me last longer – forever actually – so its good for getting HER off…..but when its time for me to get off, luckily I have a lover who allows me to release anywhere on her body 🙂
    She will suck me off, or give me a nice oily handjob. We are discreet partners so using the condoms, its a necessary trade-off.

  44. I also hate condoms. They sap up all of my natural lubrication – plus most of what we put on… And tends to get VERY uncomfortable. And like someone else said above – my guy tends to have to uh… jackhammer away to get off. Which, sometimes, is okay, because I’m craving that… but not always.

    So really – I just avoid casual sex, because I really don’t enjoy sex with condoms.

  45. I’m a female and I’ve only had one sex partner. Since we were monogamous and know we are both clean, I’ve only had sex sans condom and really don’t like the idea of losing sensation. It’s hard to weight the tiny worry of negative consequences against how good it feels, but I know that when I’m dating again, I’ll have to get used to sex with a condom.

  46. Figleaf,
    You’re right that it’s not just you and I know my bf faces that issue. It’s much more frustrating for me than for him; I can shrug it off, but he rarely does.
    So, condoms would be nice to do away with, but until we find something that works 100% of the time and protects against STIs and pregnancy, I think they’re going to be the first recommended route to keeping both partners happy. Ish.

  47. One downside of condoms I keep hearing about privately but not so much in open discussion is loss of erection. I’ve had a vasectomy, and been pretty much in long-term “fluid bonded” relationships, since just before concerns about HIV emerged so I don’t actually have a lot of experience with condoms. But even when I was an… um… perpetually upstanding young man it took a lot of gear-shifting to unwrap and properly put on a condom, and between the mental distractions, the time spent, and the fact that putting one on necessarily means you’re thinking about myriad consequences if something went wrong I’d often shrink to a point where penetration became difficult.

    And since, as I discovered decades later, it’s actually not just me it would be *very* nice if there was more, and more open, discussion of the effect.

    This isn’t to say I’m complaining about condoms, just that I’m guessing that at least part of male discomfort with the things comes not from the (ahem) straight-up loss of sensation but surprise or dismay about flagging, however briefly, when standard narratives about masculinity says it’s least supposed to happen. So, I guess, instead of complaining about condoms (which is pretty common) I’m complaining about the standard myths, narratives, and procedures involved in getting it on, and keeping it on, while *putting* it on. 🙂

    Again, obviously it’s not a problem for every man but it’s evidently a problem for quite a few of us. A little help with that would be handy.


  48. I don’t get how having to stop to put on the condom interrupts the moment… For me, it builds anticipation, and I love watching him in his full glory as he puts it on, or me putting it on. It’s all part of the loving, baby…

  49. I’m a female college student and I’m only dating casually. Among my peers here, the consensus seems to be that condoms are a necessary evil when you’re dealing with anything short of a relationship. The guys seem to have accepted it. A few times I’ve even had guys insist, mid makeout session, that we find one first. I’m wondering whether those instances occurred because I personally seem like a REASON to play it safe. Perhaps I should take offense. Ha.

  50. I’m female, and I absolutely hate condoms. I know my bf prefers it more than I do but then he softens up when the condom comes near. When it does go on successfully, I just want the session to be over asap.

    Condoms makes me want to cry.

    I would actually rather not have penetrative sex than to have our moment interrupted and ruined.

  51. My bf actually prefers using a condom and he honestly can not cum during sex without a rubber on, he says he’s too scared to. I actually think I remember him saying it feels better with one on…. huh

  52. Getting straight to the point, reduced sensation means that I’m less in tune with my wife, need more vigorous motion to get the same amount (quantity, not quality) of stimulation and more likely find myself thrusting away just to get off. Not the ingredients of that perfect shared moment.

  53. I don’t know how it compares to the other half (80%?), but if you’re not circumcised, a condom makes things QUITE different. Mainly because your foreskin isn’t moving at all as you slide in and out. That’s good and bad, I suppose… it’s nice that your glans is always exposed (which for me, it usually is, but not always), but depending upon what you’re doing you can miss the foreskin being in on the action.

    But more universally, it definitely adds that sensation filter on top of everything, in a not so good way. But you can indeed last longer, if that’s an issue (or even if it’s not — in which case it might become one)

  54. I once had a close, personal friend ask me after cunnilingus with a dental dam if that’s how sex with a condom feels for men. Obviously, it’s impossible for me to know for sure but I felt comfortable with an answer of “probably.” To which she responded “That sucks. I can why guys hate it.”
    Yeah, the sensory inputs are definitely attenuated. However, the diminished risks of STIs and unexpected conception are absolutely mitigating factors in my book.

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