February is a month full of celebration – whether it’s celebrating the contributions of legends throughout African American/Black history or celebrating current trailblazers making strides to improve the lives of Black and Brown people. February is also the month of love with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

Support Black-owned businesses

This year let’s combine the two by celebrating and bringing more awareness to the first Black-owned condom company, B Condoms. In 2011, Founder Jason Panda, realized the significant health disparities impacting the Black community and wanted to improve the availability of sexual health products. With its tagline, “protecting the culture,” the B Condoms brand initiates sexual health conversations and partners with community-based organizations that uplift the Black community by promoting health and wellbeing. This month, consider supporting this and other Black-owned brands. They offer various sizes and styles, including colored and flavored condoms.

National Condom Week

With Valentine’s Day kicking off National Condom Week (February 14-21), this is a perfect opportunity to try new kinds or stock up on the type of your choice. Condoms are highly effective at protecting against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. They are also highly effective at preventing an unintended pregnancy. Condoms help keep you safe but that doesn’t mean they can’t provide enjoyable sexual experiences.

Tips for using condoms

Check the expiration

For safety, you want to ensure the condoms are used properly. Check to make sure they are not expired, torn/ripped, or dried out. Condoms should be stored in cool places. Putting them on correctly and using them consistently also promotes safety. If you need more instructions on properly putting on a condom, check out these helpful illustrations.

Size matters

Condoms come in a variety of sizes. Using the proper size (having a snug fit) is key to preventing slippage, breakage, or discomfort to the person wearing the condom.

Avoid Allergies

Choose a condom brand or style that is comfortable for all parties engaging in the sexual activity. Some people have latex allergies, or they are prone to skin irritations. If this is the case, you may want to try a polyurethane (an alternative to latex, made using a durable plastic) condom. Polyurethane condoms are often thinner and provide a comfortable fit. It is important to vocalize discomfort and try something different. This is safer than not using condoms because of the discomfort.

Explore different styles

Different styles can improve pleasure. Condoms come in all types of colors, flavors, with or without lubrication, ribbed, you name it. These styles help you explore various sensations with your partner and determine what works best for you. If you are unsure, try a variety pack.

Lube it up

Choose the right lube. If you are going with a latex or polyurethane condom, you should use a water-based or silicone-based lubricant.

Sex should be a pleasurable experience, so this National Condom Week and all the ones that follow wrap it up and let the worry ease away.

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes

PhD, MPH, Sexual Health Researcher
Dr. Ashley Townes (she/her/hers), is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati, where she received both her Bachelors and Master of Public Health degrees. She received her doctorate degree in Health Behavior and Epidemiology from Indiana University.

Dr. Townes has experience working as a Community Health Educator and Disease Intervention Specialist in Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. She has worked on several initiatives related to the dissemination of national HIV prevention and care campaign materials tailored for African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, and transgender women of color. Dr. Townes has taught collegiate-level Human Sexuality courses, served as an Epidemiologist at the Ohio Department of Health, and currently works as a sexual health researcher in Atlanta, GA.

Ashley’s research background includes work on the sexual experiences of African American/Black women accessing health information and utilizing sexual health services. In 2018, she received grant funding from the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health to translate sexual health research data into educational materials. Her career interests are aimed at providing quality sexual education and working towards health equity.