My name is Ruth. Whenever we have sex with my partner we use condoms for protection. So wanasema condom inamake dem akuwe na tumbo kubwa sababu ya mafuta yake (they say that the lubricant in condoms make a woman’s belly big). Is this true?
Dear Ruth, thank you for your question. I found it rather perplexing because I had never heard of such a reaction to condom use. To the best of my knowledge, “mafuta ya condom”, which I assume to mean lubricant that is on many condoms, has no effect on the size on your stomach. If this problem does persist, please do visit a doctor and explain what has been happening. It may be unusual but there is no need to keep suffering when you can seek a medical opinion from someone who can examine you and give you their professional opinion based on your specific medical and sexual history.
That said, your question did get me thinking about the myths, lies, truths and ideas many people have about condoms. Let us look at three:
1. Condoms can irritate
This is true. Some people are allergic or sensitive to materials used to make different condoms. Others may be allergic or sensitive to spermicide, which is sometimes added to certain condoms to further protect against pregnancy.
Symptoms can include itching, burning and/or redness around your genital area. You might also notice pus or increased vaginal discharge and discomfort or a burning sensation while urinating. These symptoms can escalate into what doctors refer to as “anaphylaxis” i.e. a severe, systemic shock to your body in response to what your body perceives to be a major threat. Symptoms are also more heightened when compared to symptoms of a sensitivity. They include but are not limited to wheezing, difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, tongue swelling and even death.
If you (or someone you know) ever experience such a major reaction, please get them to a doctor/hospital immediately as these reactions are life threatening. In addition, if you suspect that you are having an allergic reaction to latex condoms, then ask your doctor or pharmacist for a latex-free alternative. Please note: if you use lamb skin condoms, be aware that while they can effectively protect against pregnancy, they may not be as effective against STI’s.
2. Condoms equal mistrust
Some people think condoms are only used by couples who are not in love or those who don’t trust each other. This could not be farther from the truth! Many happily in-love couples use condoms as part of their love making, and it is not a commentary on the strength or depth of their relationship.
Couples who may want to have sex but are not yet ready to be exclusive are urged to use condoms for safety. It’s not a question of trust but a question of self-preservation and safety. Using a condom is about choosing to prioritise your health and that of your partner, and that can only be a good thing. Condoms are not and should not be perceived as an enemy to love making or indeed love itself. They are simply one of the many tools available to sexually active consenting adults.
3. One size fits all
This is another myth. The truth is more like “one size fits most”, meaning most of the world’s sexually active male population would fit in most of the ‘regular’ condoms. However, as with everything in life, there are those on extreme ends of the spectrum. For those men who may be on the less-than-average end of the spectrum, using a smaller condom is preferable.
On the other hand, those men who are larger-than-average should really search for larger sized condoms. No matter the size, using the right sized condom is a life-saving measure and here’s why: ill-fitting condoms, no matter your size, can too-easily tear, slip, allow spillage, irritate both the male and female partner all of which puts you at higher risk of contracting an STI or getting pregnant.
There are many discussions that can be had about condoms and common myths and fears around them. If you hear nothing else, hear this: you deserve a happy healthy sex life devoid of worries about unwanted pregnancy or disease. For that reason, and many more, condoms are your friend when used correctly, so use them!
Maggie Gitu holds an MA in Marriage & Family Therapy and practices as a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist. Maggie can be reached at
[email protected] or via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu