5 Things Men Say to Avoid Using Condoms

In this edition of disturbing male confessions, more than 80 percent of guys admit to having used at least one tactic to avoid using condoms during sex, according to a new survey published in the Journal of Sex Research. And even worse, men said they try three and a half different kinds of tactics over the course of their hookup history, on average. Definitely not OK.

For the study, researchers from the University of Washington polled more than 313 men between the ages of 21 and 30 on their sexual behaviors, including their histories with condom use and/or resistance to using condoms. “We wanted to uncover how common condom-resistance behaviors are among men and what kinds of coercive tactics are most frequently employed to persuade their partners,” says study author Kelly Cue Davis, PhD, research associate professor at the University of Washington. “Not only had most men attempted at least one tactic since the age of 14, most had also tried a number of tactics throughout their lifetimes.”

While condom coercion is scarily common, your options aren’t limited to throwing him out of bed or just having unprotected sex when you’re not OK with it. Stalling the foreplay to make sure he suits up may seem like a buzzkill, but if you or your partner aren’t monogamous or you’re relying on condoms as your primary form of birth control, using one tends to fall into the not-optional category. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at higher risk for pregnancy and STDs. So what do you do if your guy’s lobbying to go without?

Ideally, you’d nip this all in the bud by laying out your protection policy ahead of time. That way when things get steamy later, he’ll already know how you feel and what to expect. “If you stand firm and lay out your rules for him, most guys will ultimately respect your decision,” says Belisa Vranich, PsyD, clinical psychologist and author of Boys Lie. “You just need to have an open conversation about it when the time is right.” But in case situations still, ahem, arise in the heat of the moment, Vranich offers these tips for how to handle the top lines men reported trying in the survey—without killing the mood.

His line: “Don’t worry, I’m clean.”
This is the most common tactic men try, according to the survey; 73.7 percent of guys think a self-reported clean bill of health is enough to convince you to ditch the rubber. “Men have a tendency to assume that if it looks normal, then everything’s OK,” says Vranich. “But STDs are often asymptomatic in men, so without being tested by a doctor, they may never know if there’s a problem.” Nothing kills the mood faster than dropping the S-bomb, so counter with quick, “Yeah, but there’s the whole pregnancy thing to worry about, too.” Then proceed to start opening the condom before he can argue with you.

His line: “You’re so sexy—I can’t wait. Let’s just do it.”
Most men (73.2 percent, to be exact) think that if they can sweet-talk you, then you’ll agree to some condom-free action. “This is one of the more dangerous tactics since it’s easy to be charmed in the heat of the moment when hormones are rushing,” says Vranich. “Eliminate temptation by making it as easy as possible to stick to your plan.” Stash a few rubbers in your purse or bedside table ahead of time, for example, for easy access. Having some at arm’s reach will help you stay strong if he suggests getting frisky without suiting up—plus, being able to whip one out in a matter of seconds trumps his “we don’t have time to waste” card.

His line: “It’ll feel so much better without.”
It’s the oldest line in the book—and 50.3 percent of guys report having tried it. But, spoiler alert: It may not always be true. According to a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, both women and men enjoy sex as much with condoms as they do without. “Women may actually find that they can climax more regularly with condoms, too, since it alleviates some anxiety about pregnancy and STDs,” says Vranich. There’s plenty of pleasure-enhancing condom varieties out there (think ribbed, ultra-thin and body heat-activated) that can feel like a second-skin, so snag some from your nearby pharmacy and tell your guy you want to try them out to see how they work—that way using a condom is actually part of the fun.

His line: “Can I not wear a condom?”
Interestingly enough, 40 percent of men admit to taking a more blunt approach, flat-out asking for permission to go commando. “He’s probably thinking that if he puts you on the spot, you’ll be more likely to just go with it,” says Vranich. Fire back a response that’s equally direct—simply say, “Nope. No condom, no dice. That’s the deal.” It’s not exactly pillow talk, but you have to be firm. Otherwise, he may interpret hesitation as uncertainty and think he has some wiggle room, says Vranich.

His line: “What, you don’t trust me?”
The emotional play is a jerk move—but according to the survey, more than 34 percent of men have tried it. “Some men may genuinely feel offended by your insisting upon using a condom, while others may use this as a means of manipulation,” says Vranich. “Just explain that is has nothing to do with him personally and it’s just your non-negotiable policy.”

Those are the biggies, but others tactics men tried included deception (for example, claiming they’d been tested for STDs when they really hadn’t) and condom sabotage (like agreeing to use a condom and intentionally breaking it when putting one on—yikes).  The bottom line: Whatever your policy on protection, you should be open with your partner about it and stick to your guns—no exceptions. “If your guy is still pushing for no condom after you’ve been upfront about your rules, it may be time to walk away,” says Vranich. “Safe sex is something you need to be on the same page about—no exceptions.”

photo: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

More From Women’s Health:
Why (Some) Guys Hate Condoms
Are Latex-Free Condoms Really Latex-Free?
The Best Condoms for Your Pleasure

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6 Things You Need to Know About the Morning-After Pill

Whether you suffered from a condom mishap or a total lapse in judgment, having a backup plan is key when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy. And research shows that more women are taking advantage of that backup: Emergency contraception use rose from 4.2 percent of sexually-active women in the U.S. in 2002 to 11 percent in 2006-2010, according to a recent CDC report.

Plus, that number has probably continued to rise in the last few years, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine. “It’s wonderful for women to know that [emergency contraception] is out there and available to them, because we know accidents happen,” says Minkin. “But we also hope that people continue to use reliable contraception all the time.”

But about those accidents: Post-unprotected sex, your mind may be a total, anxious blur. So knowing a few key facts about your options before you need them will save you a ton of stress later on. Here, the six most important things to know about the morning-after pill:

There Is More Than One Option
You’ve probably heard of the most common pills on the market, Plan B and Plan B One-Step (the one-pill dose), which is available over-the-counter for women 17 and older. It’s a progestin-only pill that is effective at preventing pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex and works mainly by inhibiting ovulation. But there’s another med you should know about: Ella is a newer form of emergency contraception that can be taken up to five days after your oops moment, though it’s only available with a prescription. It also works by stopping or delaying ovulation, but it carries the same effectiveness for five days, says Minkin, rather than just 72 hours.

It Doesn’t Just Come in Pill Form
But the most foolproof method actually isn’t a pill at all—inserting a copper IUD up to five days after unprotected sex can also prevent pregnancy. “By far, the most effective emergency contraception is the insertion of a copper IUD,” says James Trussell, Ph.D., faculty associate at the Office of Population Research at Princeton University. Since this would include a doctor’s visit, a (potentially painful) insertion procedure, and a hefty upfront cost, it may not be viable option for women who weren’t already considering an IUD. This might be why the FDA doesn’t list the IUD as an approved method of emergency contraception. However, if you’re looking for a reliable birth control method anyway, this might be the time to talk to your doctor about the option.

You Have (a Little) Time
While 72 hours may sound like a long time—not to mention the five days you get with Ella—that doesn’t mean you should put off your trip to the drugstore. “You may have three days, but the sooner you take it, the better. If you can get to the pharmacy immediately, you should,” says Minkin. However, if you know you won’t make the 72-hour mark, you may want to call your doctor for a prescription for Ella to buy yourself some time.

The Pharmacist Could Shut You Down
This may sound crazy, but several states have laws that allow pharmacies or individual pharmacists to refuse to sell you emergency contraception, according to the Guttmacher Institute. “If this happens, they are supposed to direct you to someone who can get it for you,” says Minkin. Save yourself the trouble and call ahead. Dial up your nearest pharmacy (and a backup) to confirm that they have the pill in stock and that they have no qualms about dispensing it. If you’re having trouble locating a pharmacy with EC, call your local Planned Parenthood for help.

Your Period May Be Different
Don’t be shocked if your flow is a little off during the month that you take EC. Your period may be earlier, later or heavier than normal as a result of the medication, though it can also change due to stress (and who wouldn’t be anxious after a birth control failure!). However, if your cycle is more than a few days late, you may want to take a pregnancy test. “Emergency contraception isn’t 100 percent effective, but it’s better than nothing,” says Minkin.

It Shouldn’t Replace Birth Control
There’s a reason why this isn’t called Plan A—it’s not meant to be used as your regular birth control method. Instead, think of it like your emergency credit card: You’re not going to use it every day, but you might need to whip it out after a major slip-up. “It’s not dangerous to your health to take it several times, but there are a lot of great contraceptive methods out there,” says Minkin. “I do not recommend this for regular contraception, and I’m always encouraging people to use condoms no matter what.” That said, mistakes happen. And like your emergency plastic, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep one on hand in case of emergencies.

photo: Comstock/Thinkstock

More from Women’s Health:
All About Birth Control 
The Smart Girl’s Guide to Contraceptives
Take a Stand For Your Reproductive Rights

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5 Amazing Things Your Brain Can Do

You know your mind is great at solving complex problems and daydreaming about Ryan Gosling, but it can do a lot more than that. Your brain can actually control everything from your sex life to your weight. But there’s a catch: If you’re not taking care of it, your brain can throw all these areas out of whack. Here, how to maximize your mind to reap big benefits in all areas of your life:

Switch Off Stress and Anxiety
Here’s the good news: Women’s brains are significantly more active than men’s brains, especially in the prefrontal cortex—the area involved in judgment, impulse control, planning, empathy, and more—says Daniel Amen, M.D., author of the new book Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. But a super-active prefrontal cortex comes with its own set of challenges. “Because of that increased activity, women also worry more and have trouble letting go of things,” Amen says. His advice: Give your brain a break with regular stress-management techniques—like meditation, guided imagery, or even a massage. “Just ten minutes a day to take your brain somewhere else will decrease cortisol production,” says Amen. And cutting that stress hormone will make you happier, wiser, and more productive.
RELATED: Outsmart Stress Traps

Control Your Sugar Cravings
That irresistible urge to devour an entire bag of chips isn’t coming from your stomach—it’s coming from your noggin. Those cravings kick in when your brain is being deprived. Low levels of vitamin D, low blood sugar, and not enough sleep are all associated with lower blood flow to the brain, says Amen, which results in bad decisions. Boost your self-control by giving your brain what it wants: eight hours of sleep, healthy snacks throughout the day, and additional supplements as directed by your doctor.
RELATED: What Your Food Cravings Say About Your Health

Ease PMS
If you turn into an irrational, carb-obsessed mess before your period, blame it on your brain—not just your hormones. “Progesterone makes you feel relaxed and estrogen helps you think clearly, and both of them drop before your cycle,” says Amen. To counteract this effect, your brain needs a boost of serotonin. Carbohydrates will do the trick (which is why bagels look even more delicious this time of the month), but make sure to quell the craving with healthy options. “A smart carb would be a sweet potato or an apple,” says Amen. Still feeling cranky? Go for a run. Exercising gives you a huge boost of serotonin.
RELATED: 9 Ways to Get Relief From PMS

Have Better Sex
Because women’s brains are built to multitask, it can be difficult for you to focus solely on pleasure while having sex. “Where you direct your attention before and during sex will either enhance it or diminish it,” says Amen. So focus it somewhere hot—like your guy’s amazing arms or the sensations you’re feeling. It takes a little training, but the end result is a big O. Bonus: Have your guy give you a foot massage to get you in the mood. “Your feet are right next to your clitoris in the brain,” says Amen, so any activation in that area will boost your arousal even more.
RELATED: Have Better Sex This Winter

Increase Your Intuition
There’s a reason why women tend to have more gut feelings than men: Female brains are actually better at reading social cues and picking up on subtle differences. But just because your brain notices something—like an awkward glance from a coworker—that doesn’t mean you’ll always interpret it correctly. “It’s important to honor it, but at the same time question it,” says Amen. Plus, your gut is more likely to be wrong if you’re running on too little sleep or food. “There are different ways we tend to distort things, so you want to be good at talking back to your brain,” says Amen. The good news: The more you question your instincts, the better you’ll get at interpreting your gut.
RELATED: Trust Your Gut Instincts Or Obey Your Brain?

photo: WaveBreakMedia/Shutterstock

More from Women’s Health:
Sharpen Your Mind
Games That Help Train Your Brain
5 Brain-Boosting Effects Of Cardio 

Jessica Alba’s go-to tips for making affordable, stylish nontoxic choices for your home and family! Buy The Honest Life today!

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5 Things You Should Do If You Lose Your Job

Job loss is hard enough as it is. But new research now shows that it can actually be dangerous. Unemployment has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, according to an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Duke University conducted a large cohort study of 13,451 U.S. adults between ages 51 and 75 from 1992 to 2010. They looked at various factors associated with unemployment and the risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI, or heart attack), and found that AMI risk was highest in the first year of job loss, and also increased with each subsequent job loss up to four thereafter.

There may be a few reasons for the jump in cardiac problems. “Heart attacks are often preventable, so barriers to good healthcare put you at higher risk of heart attack,” says interventional cardiologist Sara Collins, MD. “Unemployment status may be associated with loss of insurance, and therefore, worse access to healthcare.” This means a reduction in heart attack-prevention practices, like medication, doctor visits and screening exams. Collins also says those who can no longer afford child or elderly care during unemployment may be reluctant to leave home to see a doc, ignoring signs of an impending heart attack.

An additional factor may be your anxiety level while dealing with the shock and strain of newfound unemployment. “The chemicals associated with stress, like acetylcholine, have been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks,” Collins says.

Since risk is highest during the first year after job loss, it helps to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. Here’s what to if you’re let go:

Overhaul your resume. Give your CV a makeover. On the resume, list just your credentials using strong action verbs like “completed” and “directed.” And then ditch the mission statement. “You can totally misfire with that,” says Austin. “Use results where possible. They’re the measure of success. Then, really take a look at yourself. Are you a people person? Good with numbers? Tech smart? Make a list of all the things you’re good at.” Group your qualities into categories, and refer to these when drawing up a cover letter.

Network the right way. Don’t bother using a mass-mailing website to look for a job. Austin insists your resume will just go into “the black hole of cyberspace.” Tap existing relationships. “Talk to everyone you know, tell them the kinds of things you’d like to do, and ask if they know someone who knows someone,” Austin says. “Don’t ask for referrals, just ask for people you can talk to. Ask senior people if they know anyone you can talk to about a job. It’s the best way to get on the radar, especially in this work environment.”

Be persistent. You may send out 10 or 20 resumes and only get one phone call back. Stay upbeat. “You cannot let anyone see you beaten down,” says Austin. “If you go on an interview, check in. Call. Send a handwritten note. Ask, ‘Is there anything else you need? I haven’t heard back from you.’ Don’t be annoying, but be of service.” Never let the silence or a no stop you. Move on to the next.

Keep your workout routine. Staying fit and looking after yourself will help you stay in shape both mentally and physically—which will help with your overall outlook. “You need to take a positive approach,” says Leslie Austin, Ph.D., an executive coach and corporate consultant based in New York City. “Being positive is a discipline. It will get you your next job. It will help manage your stress while looking. In a good economy, employers need workers. In a bad economy, they need good workers.” Like you. So, keep in tip-top shape. Exercise, eat well, take care of yourself and steer clear of pity parties.

Stay busy. Black clouds creep in when you stay in and crack open a bag of Oreos. Get up. Get moving. “Go volunteer,” says Austin. “It is very good for morale to help others. Plus, you never know how you will meet someone.” Potential career connections can hide anywhere – except at home in front of the TV.

photo: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

More from WH:
How to Negotiate Your Salary
5 Times You Should Call in Sick to Work
Get Your Dream Job

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15 Things NOT to Wear on a First Date

Rachel Bilson, former Women’s Health cover star, doesn’t always dress to impress guys. “All men hate harem pants, but I don’t give a s—t,” she says, according to UsMagazine.com. “They are so comfortable. You get a little room, you know?”

It just goes to show: Men and women often aren’t on the same page when it comes to fashion. Just as women tend to cringe when dudes make style faux pas (see the 10 Things Guys Should NEVER Wear), a lot of guys hate when women don clothes and accessories that they just don’t understand. When it comes to style, there’s girl-hot (clothes that women think are sexy and stylish), and guy-hot (clothes that guys think are smokin’)—and, more often than not, the two categories just don’t overlap.

With that in mind, we turned to Men’s Health Facebook users to see what lady fashion trends they just can’t stand. Here, 15 things that are decidedly girl-hot, not guy-hot.

Tell us: Would you adopt Bilson’s attitude and wear any of these items on a first date? Or would you save them for a night out with the girls?

More from WH:
Hollywood’s Hottest Guys
How to Understand Men
Chic Work Outfits
15 Min Belly, Butt & Thigh Workout
What’s the 15-Minute Fat Loss Secret? Find out here!

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5 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for a Hurricane

As the northeast braces for the heavy rains and strong winds of Hurricane Sandy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as you scour the internet for information on how to prepare your home for the storm. Follow these tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers For Disease Control. Stay safe, everyone.

1. Follow instructions from state and local authorities
If you’re told to evacuate and it’s still safe to do so, get out of dodge. Watch the news, listen to the radio, or look for alerts online or on Twitter that tell you how to proceed.

A cool app you might want to download: The Red Cross has a free Hurricane app for iPhone and Android, which has action steps preloaded so you can access them even if mobile networks are down. You can set up one-touch “I’m safe” messaging that pushes a note out to your social networks to let people know that you’re OK. The app also has essential weather alerts and handy flashlight and strobe light functions, which work through the camera flash on your phone. Get the app here: http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/hurricane-app

2. Make an emergency kit and a communications plan
A basic emergency kit includes supplies like:
• Water: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation (more on water safety below)
• Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener (more on food safety below). Don’t know what to buy? Print our list of the 125 Best Packaged Foods and pick up things that aren’t in the store’s refrigerated or freezer cases.
• Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
• Flashlights and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Cell phones and chargers
• Other essentials like cash, identification, and important documents like passports

Your communications plan is this: Identify a friend or family member out of state who you can call to tell that you’re safe. Make sure everyone in your household has the contact’s phone number and a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card. Text messages might get through in the event of network disruptions that could affect phone calls.

3. Protect your home, protect yourself
Before the hurricane, bring in outdoor furniture and garbage cans, cover windows with storm shutters or plywood. During the storm, secure all of your doors, stay inside, avoid elevators, and stay away from windows and glass doors. Interior rooms are the safest.

4. Exercise water smarts
In addition to having enough water per person in your household for three days, you may want to ready a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as bathing and flushing toilets in case you lose power. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers (like pots) with water.

If your water supply becomes contaminated with floodwater or if you have floodwater in your home, take extra caution. Don’t use water you think might be contaminated (or you have been told is contaminated) to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice. Water can often be made safe to drink by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering. Learn how to make your water safe with these tips from the CDC.

Note that caffeine and alcohol are diuretics and dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water. Avoid these drinks if you can.

5. Keep food fresh
During the storm, turn your refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed. If you lose power, try not to open your fridge or freezer so you preserve the temperature inside. If the power has been off for 4 hours or more, throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your fridge. If your freezer is full and you don’t open it, it will keep food safe for 48 hours. If it’s only half full, that window shrinks to 24 hours (frozen food keeps other items cold; the fewer items in the freezer, the fewer “ice packs” you have). Click here for more tips on food safety from the CDC.

photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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Survey Says: 10 Things Guys Should NEVER Wear

Dear guys: It’s not you. It’s what you’re wearing.

Earlier this week, Emma Watson, while a guest on the Ellen show, compared British and American men. And while she had positive things to say about the average American guy’s approach to dating, she wasn’t so fond of his sartorial choices—especially when it comes to footwear.

“They’re very open and very straightforward,” Watson says of American men. “But they wear flip-flops and I don’t know if I like that.” Fair enough.

We turned to our Women’s Health Facebook users to see what they thought of men wearing sandals, and they pointed out several other male fashion faux pas.

Here is what they told us guys should never wear. Do you agree? Have anything to add? (Hey, Men’s Health readers—you paying attention?)

More from WH:
Your Body On: Breaking Up
How to Understand Men
Shirtless Guys: Hollywood’s Hottest Washboard Abs

Look Better Naked: Buy the book to learn how to look (and feel!) your very best.

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4 Things Apples Can Do for You

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