Condoms in porn movies

Published:

Dear Dr. Myrtle,

Why aren’t porn stars wearing condoms? Does that present a risk to the actors? If not, do you know why it doesn’t?


Porn stars aren't wearing condoms because a portion of visual erotica viewers wants to see them without condoms. Actors are often paid more if they are willing to perform without protection, giving them financial incentive for risking their health and lives. Actors are infected by on-set work, and consumers are responsible for promoting this increased risk to actors. Although actors are screened with routine testing (which can prevent further infections), there are gaps between infections and testing. Some people become infected before a test can become positive.

Safe, Saf-er, and Unsafe Sex Defined.

  • It is SAFE sex to watch visual erotica. It is SAFE to use your own toy for self-pleasuring.
  • It is SAF-ER sex to be intimate with someone else while using barriers between bodies. It is not completely safe, because infections can be transmitted where barriers don't cover, or if barriers break. It is SAF-ER to cover someone else's toy with a barrier before you use it yourself.
  • It is UNSAFE sex to be intimate without barriers between bodies. It is unsafe to pretend that you can tell if someone is infected by looking at them. It is unsafe to use toys that someone else has used.

Safer sex is the use of barriers and lubricant to keep secretions from passing between bodies. Oral sex with a man (fellatio) needs to be done with a condom on his penis for it to be safer sex. Oral sex with a women (cunnilingus) done with a opened condom or oral sex sheet/dam is safer sex. Any sexual act is safer when one body is prevented from directly contacting another body. This is why we call condoms "barriers": the condom is acting as a barrier between bodies.

The inconsistent use of condoms in visual erotica sends dangerous educational messages and confuses many people about what safe sex is, and isn't. It’s important to recognize the boundary between fantasy (watching something that is actually not safe), and reality (doing something that is not safe). It's ridiculous from an infection point of view to watch someone have penetrative sex with a condom on (safer), only to watch them take it off and ejaculate on someone's body (unsafe).

If you don’t want to use barriers, another way to have safer sex is to get regular medical screenings for sexually transmitted infections prior to contact with a new partner. If you BOTH have been tested and are negative for infections, you can be sexually intimate without barriers with other people who tested negative at the same time. (This does not prevent pregnancy, however.) Examples of this in erotic films include some actors who are lifetime partners. Not only have they both been medically screened, but they have a consensual agreement not to be sexual with other people unless barriers are used, to reduce the possibility of infection contamination of their partners. (To be careful, these actors often get routine testing even with the use of barriers with other actors.)

You can make a difference by buying access to visual erotica from companies who focus on safer sex behaviors. If you are serious about not exposing yourself to infections, get turned on by watching other people in films, but don’t DO what you are seeing.

Take Care.

Dr. Myrtle