Swat Ed: First Base

10 mins read
on September 10, 2018 on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA. (Photo by Emma Ricci-De Lucca ’21)

Swat Ed is the Phoenix’s biweekly sex education Q & A. We accept all questions and they are kept completely anonymous. If you’re looking for medical advice or a diagnosis for that weird thing on your genitals, get in touch with a medical professional! For everything else, email swatedquestions@gmail.com. Today’s subject matter includes condoms, sex toys, and butt stuff.


I’ve heard conflicting accounts about whether it is safe to have sex with only a condom for protection – with no other forms of birth control. Is that okay?

-Wrap Alone

The short answer is yes, it is safe! With regards to STIs, condoms and dental dams are your main options for STI prevention. For pregnancy prevention, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy when used perfectly. The average real life statistic is 85%. So if you have PIV (penis in vagina) sex a lot, you might feel more comfortable with another birth control method like the pill or an IUD (that way, if you do have trouble with a condom, you’ll have a backup method working). If you don’t have PIV sex often and you’re conscious of safety every time, then you’re probably good to go using just a condom. For more exact instructions on using condoms perfectly, you can check out plannedparenthood.org’s section on putting condoms on.


Sex with my partner is fine, but I’ve been thinking about trying sex toys. I’m worried that it’ll upset my partner. How do I bring this up? And where do I even go to buy them? What should I look for?

-Toys “R” Us

Let’s start with where to buy them. Adam and Eve is a good online resource for sex toys as well as Shevibe, Njoy and Come As You Are. When buying a sex toy, look for body safe materials. 100 percent pure silicone (food-grade or medical-grade), medical grade stainless steel, aluminum, glass, glazed ceramic, and ABS plastic (although it is porous – more on that later). Avoid jelly (gel), rubber, impure silicone, vinyl and PVC, and silicone blends. Look for the word nonporous: as long as the material is nontoxic, it isn’t the end of the world to have a porous toy, but you can never fully clean it and as a result you’ll have to always use a condom over it with different partners. Clean sex toys between uses and disinfect them completely between partners. If you’re sharing sex toys with someone whose STI status is unknown, use a condom over the toy, the same as if you were having sex with them. Good quality sex toys can be had for relatively good prices ($30-50). Avoid using Amazon as a starting point for purchasing sex toys, although if you find a toy on a legitimate website that you like you can sometimes find that same item on Amazon for cheaper.

As far as bringing it up to your partner, a good thing to keep in mind is emphasizing how you want the toy to augment your shared sex lives. For example, a man in a heterosexual relationship might interpret his partner’s desire to buy a vibrator as an indicator of his sexual inadequacy. Simply put: it’s not. You might consider purchasing a toy that is compatible with both you and your partner’s bodies to start, so that each of you might use it. Tell your partner that you think it would be a fun addition to sex, and if your partner is amenable, try online shopping for them together. It’s a fun and sexy activity — sex toy names are often hilarious. If your partner is less enthusiastic about getting toys, then it might not be a good fit for your dynamic as partners — but remember that you can always get one for your personal use. Your partner might end up curious or wanting to use it with you, or it could simply be a pleasant addition to your personal life.


My partner and I want to try anal, but we have no idea how to start. I wanna be prepared before trying anything, and it’s a little scary.

-Excited Butt Nervous

The main thing to remember about anal sex is that, unlike vaginal sex, anuses don’t produce lubrication and are not designed for penetration. So you need two things, in large quantities: lube and patience. It’s easy to go a little too fast and end up with an uncomfortable or possibly negative experience. So try to go into it without any big expectations and just with the mindset of fooling around and having a good time. With regard to hygiene, it’s pretty straightforward: don’t do it post Taco Bell or Sharples meatloaf, and if you’ve had a bowel movement in the past few hours you’re probably good. Some people prefer to use an anal douche to feel cleaner; it’s up to what makes you more comfortable. A disclaimer about fecal matter: being into anal accepts the risk of encountering fecal matter because bodies are bodies. Freaking out about it might make your partner extremely embarrassed, and it’s like getting mad about sand when you’re at the beach. You knew the risks when you chose to enter.


Okay, so, I’m straight. Probably. I’ve been with my gf for a while. Sex is fun. Lately she’s been asking me to do more stuff with her butt. She seems pretty into it. And I was wondering, what’s the hype? And then I started thinking, what if I wanted to try? Help.

(For context, one time she jokingly played with my ass during sex and it felt really good. So I know I like some of this stuff. I just don’t know how to do it or talk about it.)

-Backdoor Boy

This is a great question. Before I address it, I’d like to quickly say that sex acts are not linked to sexual orientation, which is a thought that pops up frequently around this topic. Men enjoying butt stuff does not indicate that they are homosexual, any more than straight women giving oral sex means they’re gay men.

It’s a terrible thing that there is stigma around it, because male-bodied people are uniquely suited to enjoy anal play through prostate stimulation. The prostate is a walnut-sized organ between the bladder and the penis that is accessible through the rectum — it has a lot of nerve endings and has been compared to the G spot in terms of sensitivity.

So, beyond the background information — you can experiment by yourself, in the shower or with gloved fingers if that makes you more comfortable. That way you’ll know what stimulation (internal, external) feels good before you talk to your partner. When talking to your partner, you can start small and ask her if she could stimulate your anus during oral — this is pretty common, and if she’s enthusiastic about it it should progress pretty smoothly from then on. If she’s more reticent, emphasize how much you enjoy it. As always, some people just don’t enjoy certain activities, but you can always explore it on your own.

P. Afdersex '69

P. Afdersex ’69 loves Swarthmore, friendly discussion, and positivity. They are studying human anatomy and communications and hope to one day start a movement toward yonic architecture to balance out the more phallic structures of the world.

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