It came up again today, and it's something I've thought about before. A bit of research into the subject has turned up mostly two views:
- Unsafe sex is icky and unpleasant, and it's a turn-off if the scene doesn't either include a condom or a mention of being clean and on birth control of some sort
- Condom use detracts from the scene and is unpleasant/unarousing
So if you're writing erotica, which approach should you take?
Well, first off I'd say you should go with whichever one you're more comfortable with. As with many topics in erotica, if you're really, genuinely uncomfortable writing something - don't! I'm not saying that you shouldn't push your boundaries, but if you know something squicks you, your writing is likely to suffer from it.
That said, if you'd like to compromise between the two options, there's plenty of room to do so. Writing about a bunch of vampire fellas taking turns barebacking a werewolf? It's all good: as the undead and shapeshifters, they obviously aren't susceptible to mere venereal diseases, and you can slip in a line to that effect. Condomless sex between an established heterosexual couple? It's all good, she's on the pill. Same couple, but with a condom? You could slip in a mention after the scene or gloss over the prep a bit - or you could work it into the sex by having the woman help out. There's plenty of options!
I personally fall under the "unsafe sex is kind of icky" camp: it's not an all-or-nothing thing and I can understand the frustration with condoms in sex scenes, but all the same I appreciate a little note that no one is going to wake up the next morning and have it burn when they pee, you know
And a caveat: much of this obviously won't apply to historical settings, and some fantasy settings.