What sucks about condom snorting

Sure it’s a little gross to watch someone snort a piece of latex up their nose and pull it out through their mouth. We can all agree that it’s one of those stupid things young people do, just like sticking cinnamint gum wrappers to your forehead until it burns, piercing your own ears with safety pins, or standing against a wall while a friend runs into your chest to make you pass out. In my opinion, these types of shenanigans are developmentally appropriate; for the most part, everyone survives and grows out of it and it’s no big deal. The problem with condom snorting is not that teenagers are snorting condoms, but that journalists are having a field day with this because they’re snorting condoms. Like, condoms for sex.

For example, Kat Stoeffel writes in New York Magazine’s The Cut (emphasis added):

Teenagers are snorting condoms up their noses and pulling them out of their mouths, on camera and on the Internet, according to a Huffington Post report that raises more questions than it answers. A YouTube search for “condom challenge” yields more than 200,000 results, most of them NSFW due to gross noises. Is this the “gateway sexual activity”? Or is this what happens when there’s no sex ed? Is it an elaborate ruse to buy and possess condoms? And is this better or worse than the condom’s intended purpose?

Seriously? Let me clear this up.

“Is this a gateway sexual activity?” No.

“Is this what happens when there’s no sex ed?” No. What happens is one out of two young people will get an STI by the age of 25 and most wont know they are infected.

“Is it an elaborate ruse to buy and possess condoms?” No. Teenagers have every right, if not every imperative, to buy and posses condoms. Just like teenagers should own helmets, wear sunscreen, and use seatbelts, they should possess and use condoms. If they want to snort a few up their nose, so be it.

“Is this better or worse than the condoms intended purpose?” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Teenagers have sex. Condoms should be used for sex. Teenagers should use condoms when they have sex. Snorting condoms is not going to keep teenagers from having sex. There’s nothing wrong with teenagers having protected sex. Condoms are used to have protected sex. It’s really awesome when teenagers use condoms to have protected sex. Do we need to go around one more time?

I’m not sure what the health risks are of condom snorting, but I imagine choking is a legitimate concern. Still, it’s a fairly innocuous pastime compared to the expansive list of dangerously stupid things teenagers have devised to occupy their time, like skateboarding off rooftops, playing with fireworks, giving themselves homemade tattoos, etc.

The media hand-wringing over condom snorting is reminiscent of that of the cinnamon challenge, but this time it will have the added bonus of panic since this time they’re snorting lubed latex that’s made for (hushed whisper) s-e-x. 

This is a case where kids will be kids, and adults need to grow up.

Don’t Drop the Ball – Ways to avoid New Year’s accidents

Back Up Your Birth Control has a new campaign called “Don’t Drop the Ball,” out there to educate women about Emergency Contraception, aka Plan B or “the morning after pill.”  I think their Grandma video is particularly cute.

What’s missing from this campaign, however, is good information on how to avoid needing EC in the first place.  They warn: “Condoms break. Pills can be forgotten.”   These are both true, but there are other ways to deal with those potential accidents BEFORE the fact, so that EC won’t be necessary.

I certainly don’t have anything against EC.  It’s a wonderful and necessary thing because, let’s face it, shit happens.  It is especially great in the case of sexual assault, not to mention it’s relative simplicity, affordability, accessibility, privacy, and safety compared to an abortion (or not) later in the game.  But still, EC does cost money (around $50 over the counter), and teens under 17 still need their doctor’s prescription.  And while it is safe, EC is still a large dose of hormones and it’s unclear what the effects of taking it frequently might be over time.

So here are three simple strategies you can use to (hopefully) avoid needing EC on New Year’s Eve, or any other night you plan to have some fun.

  • If birth control (pill, ring, shot, etc) is your primary form of protection, also use a CONDOM!  Condoms are the best back-up method because in addition to preventing pregnancy, they also protect you from STDs.
  • If condoms are your primary form of protection, use an additional contraceptive like spermicide.  You might try VCF dissolving strips (the link has a free sample coupon), also available at your local drugstore.

And since both of these strategies involve condoms, it’s important to understand why condoms sometimes break.

  • Condoms break because of friction.  Lube is the best way to cut down on friction.  If things are nice and slippery, the condom will be much more effective.  This is true across the board, whether you’re using latex or condoms made from other materials.  (Water-based lubes like Astroglide, KY, Liquid Silk, and WET, are safe for all condoms.)  Pick up a small bottle or packet at the drug store, campus provider, or sex shop, and slip it into your bag ahead of time.  Lube is a great pleasure enhancer, but it is also an important part of safe condom usage.

Plan ahead of time, and have a great New Year’s!