Dear Lucy: I know how to use a condom and properly remove it after use, but what should I do after that?
The surrounding area (the part of my penis that wasn’t covered by the condom) is usually covered with vaginal fluid. If I rinse with water, these fluids may contact the rest of my penis. I don’t know much about STI transmission, so perhaps this is an unfounded worry. But would there be any benefit to an additional action such as patting dry with a towel? —Very Careful Guy
Dear VCG: Can one ever be too careful? Actually, I guess that’s what you’re asking. For an answer, Lucy knew just where to turn—Dr. Howard Heller, former MIT Medical PCP and current infectious disease consultant.
Heller doesn’t think there will ever be a research study to definitively answer your question—picture a randomized trial of post-intercourse penis air-drying versus pat-drying versus washing. That said, given what Heller knows about STI transmission, he recommends the pat-dry technique. “There could be a risk of herpes infection on the unprotected part of the shaft or the possibility of chlamydia or gonorrhea transmission if the vaginal fluid spreads down to the meatus, or tip of the penis,” Heller explains.
However, for all you “not quite as careful guys” out there, Heller notes that “using a condom during penetration is already reducing most of the risk.” But if you want to be a “very careful guy” like our letter-writer, he advises “patting dry before you have a chance to wash up to reduce the risks even further.”
And there you have it, Very Careful Guy. Lucy applauds your efforts to practice safer sex and encourages all the other guys out there to follow your condom-wearing example. —Lucy