Sasha: On condoms and testicles

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Dear Sasha,

I was in a relationship with the first girl I slept with for years, so even though I've had a pretty active sex life, I never had to wear a condom.

Since being dumped, I've had close to no sex, and the only time I did, even though it was pretty fun for everyone (she was great, I was great, it was great), I realized how different, not as fulfilling, it is with a condom on. I felt little down there, felt disconnected and handicapped in my ability to provide pleasure, as I can now only feel what I'm doing well or not with/to her by sight and sound. I have this image of a massage therapist working with anesthetized hands.

I'm already using the thin ones, but there's not exactly a great variety for my size. Not catching diseases is important, but at the same time I'd like to enjoy more the rare opportunities I actually get. I read in your column some time ago about a super-thin condom made from a different material that got rave reviews.

For real, or did I just imagine that? What is that condom? Does it come in a large size? Also, while I'm not presently in need of tests for venereal diseases and other uncool genital stuff, I'd be in trouble if I did, because I'm clueless about how to get them quickly. Do I need a family doctor? Does it cost something?

New Guy in the Protection Business

Regardless of your perceived status, making sexual health part of your routine and developing a relaxed candour with its language and practitioners is a smart thing to do. You don't need a family doctor; there are free sexual health clinics you can visit even on a walk-in basis. Hassle Free was my favourite until I was diagnosed with premature ovarian syndrome and had to get myself a GP and a specialist.

For barrier protection, you have several options. Try Kimono brand from Japan in the larger size. Skyn is the one you may be remembering I mentioned in my column. It's made of polyisoprene, an alternative to latex, though for now it's only available in regular sizes.

Visit a sex shop offering single condoms for sale (Good for Her, Come As you Are) and grab a selection. Use them while you jerk off to test sensation.

Another option you may want to try during sex is the female condom. I've found them somewhat unwieldy to insert, and they are compar-atively expensive, but this is another benefit of free sexual health clinics: they generally have buckets of complimentary condoms, both male and female, in the waiting room. An advantage of the female condom is that is covers a broader area, offering better protection against skin-to-skin viruses.

As for gauging sensation in your partner, if you've ever had a massage, you might have noticed that one thing therapists do is ask questions like, "Am I going too hard? Does this feel good? Where can I apply more or less pressure?" You are free to do the same with sex partners.

What's your bag?

Dear Sasha,

I have an unusually baggy scrotum. It looks okay to me in the front, but one of my ex-girlfriends pointed out that from behind "it looks like the saggy, dried-up milk sac of an old cow on her last legs." Since then I've been very embarrassed to walk around naked and especially to bend over in front of a girl.

This is really difficult because now I can't do a lot of the things I like to do with girls. I don't think I need to go into details here; you know what I'm talking about.

How did this happen? All of my male friends have really nice, tight scrotums. I remember tugging on my testicles a lot when I was a young boy. Did I stretch out my skin? More importantly, is there plastic surgery for men with my problem? I know it will be painful, but so is the humiliation I face every time I am naked with a woman.

George

I hate to tell you this, George, because it may call forth a jarring and unwelcome visual, but we inherit the look and size of our genitals from our parents. And like breasts, your scrotum is subject to the irresistible pull of gravity, meaning it will become even more pendulous as you age.

Personally, though, persistent discomfort is the only reason I can see for getting a scrotum reduction (also known as a scrotal lift, and here are some examples), because the advantages of a long scrotum and dangling nuts, in my opinion, outweigh the negative. Sure, visually the whole package has the comical, prehistoric quality of a gallinaceous bird's head, but do you hear the ladies complaining when your flowing sack is smacking their clit during doggy style? Likely not.

***

I received an email last week from Cory Silverberg, one of the original worker-owners of Come as You Are.

"I'm writing to let you know that I'm going to be leaving the Come as You Are cooperative," it read. "It's been the absolute joy of my life, but as many of you may know, for the past several years I haven't been involved in the operations of the cooperative and have turned my attention to teaching, writing and research.

"There's always a time when founders should leave the organizations they started, and after 13 years, this seems like the best time for both myself and the co-op. I've been working with the amazing group of worker-owners and staff to ensure the transition is an easy one. Come as You Are remains committed to providing support for sex educators, counsellors, therapists and activists."

I'd like to thank Cory for being such an invaluable resource for my column, and for his own work as a sexuality columnist on About.com, which he will continue to pursue. In my many visits to Come as You Are, I always looked forward to his sly, humorous insights and his seemingly endless collection of sweater vests.

Ask Sasha:

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