WHEN IS IT SAFE TO STOP USING PROTECTION?
I've been dating the same guy for a few months and we are thinking about quitting using condoms. We're only dating each other, so I think it's fine. But how long are you supposed to wait?
The question of when to quit using "protection" is a complicated one and there is no amount of time set in stone, however there are a few things you can do to help decide. In your e-mail you said "protection" but I'm going to go ahead and guess you specifically meant condoms. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1. Why do I want to stop?
2. Does my partner want to stop?
3. Have we set up other rules around sexual health/safety?
First things first- have you both been tested for STIs and HIV? Before discontinuing the use of condoms it's always important to make sure that you're able to continue being "safe." One thing you may want to consider is getting tested, waiting past the window period of the test, and getting tested again. The window period is a set amount of time, depending on the type of test you receive, where it's possible for a virus to be in your body but not be detected by the testing instrument. During this period, the virus is still transmittable.
There are a ton of reasons people may want to stop using condoms and many go beyond how they feel during sex, here are a couple examples. 1. If your concern is just the feel of the condom, I would encourage you to try out different brands, sizes, types, and even lubricants. All of those factors can have an impact on how a condom feels. 2. Maybe you're thinking that emotionally it's different without condoms compared to with? A lot of research has shown that for many people that is the case and having sex without condoms just feels more connected. Does your partner want to stop? Is this a discussion you've had? If so, what is that person's reasons for wanting to stop or continue use?
Rules around safety. You said that you're "only dating each other," and that's great, but statistically, people screw up. Sometimes even in the best relationships someone can make a mistake. When it comes to your sexual health, it's always important to have a backup plan. Have you had an explicit discussion with your partner about the rules of your relationship? One step further: have you had a discussion about what happens if either of you break those rules? This can be a difficult discussion for people, but having a conversation about "what if" is not giving permission. Let your partner know that if they happen to make a mistake, there are things you do and don't want to know, but that your health is important and you want to continue being safe- which may mean getting tested again before you reengage in sex.
There is no set time in which you are guaranteed sexual safety in a relationship. Communication with your partner is key. Understand the risks, talk about them, and above all else, agree to keep each other healthy.
Best of luck,