With Valentine’s Day approaching and many organizations, businesses, and commercials talking about Love, we wanted to clear a up a few myths. We feel it is important to get all the information possible before making a decision about becoming sexually active or engaging sexually with a new or untested partner. So how do you protect yourself and what information should you consider?
There are lots of options out there for contraception with the most readily available being condoms. You may have been given information about condoms or even been provided with condoms for free at school or at your doctor’s office.
But just how effective are condoms? Can they keep you from getting pregnant or from getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Let’s take a look at some common myths about condoms and how you can protect yourself.
Myth #1: Condoms are durable.
Truth: Condoms frequently tear or break when opening the package and during sexual intercourse. Studies on so-called strength and durability are performed in artificial laboratory settings that do not mirror real-world use when partners have sex.
Myth #2: Condoms prevent pregnancy.
Truth: Out of every 100 women whose partners wear condoms, at least 18 will still become pregnant, even when condoms are used consistently according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Myth #3: Condoms prevent STD pathogens from passing through.
Truth: Condoms — even those made of latex or other plastics — are porous, and do, in fact, allow bacteria and viruses to pass through and infect you or your partner.
Myth #4: Condoms protect you from STDs spread through bodily fluids during vaginal sex.
Truth: Because condoms are porous and frequently tear during sex, you can easily get infected by STDs spread by semen, vaginal fluid, or blood — even when using condoms.
Myth #5: You can only get STDs from vaginal sex.
Truth: Many STDs — such as herpes, human papillomavirus, and syphilis — are spread through skin-to-skin contact at any location on the body. A condom provides only minimal protection during vaginal sex, but no protection during oral or anal sex.
Myth #6: Condoms do not leak.
Truth: Condoms frequently leak during sexual intercourse and usually spill bodily fluids during application and removal.
Myth #7: A large body of research proves the efficacy of condoms.
Truth: The CDC warns us of the flaws in research on the effectiveness of condoms: the “exact magnitude of protection has been difficult to quantify because of numerous methodological challenges inherent in studying private behaviors that cannot be directly observed or measure.”
The research that has been conducted has repeatedly demonstrated the ineffectiveness of condoms. In 2001, the National Institutes of Health completed a thorough review of 138 peer-reviewed studies on condom use.
Their findings revealed no evidence that condoms prevent transmission of STDs. Even when used “consistently and correctly,” a favorite phrase of those who promote condoms, HIV infection rates remain at a stubbornly high 15 percent among couples who were using condoms. About 18 percent of women whose partners use condoms will still become pregnant.
The Real Costs of Condom Use
Young people in the United States — especially young women — have paid a high price for the efforts of profit-driven condom manufacturers and their allies to promote risky sexual behaviors in order to make more money — at the expense of public health.
This dangerous misinformation campaign has had disastrous results for teens, young adults, and women in particular. According to the CDC, in 2014 there were more than 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia, 350,000 cases of gonorrhea, and almost 20,000 cases of syphilis. The two most common STDs — chlamydia and gonorrhea — both strike women ages 15 to 24 at a much higher rate than men of the same age. About half of all new STD cases reported to the CDC each year are among individuals in the 15 to 24 age range.
How Can I Prevent STD Infection?
There are only two ways to prevent STDs:
- Abstain from all sexual contact
- Only have sex when you are married to an uninfected opposite-sex spouse
Need to talk to someone about STDs? ACPC is here to help.
If you have had sex — vaginal, oral, or anal — you are at high risk for STDs even if you’ve been using condoms every time. You can contact us at any time to schedule a free STD test in a confidential, nonjudgmental setting as part of our free pregnancy verification appointments if you think you may be pregnant.
We are here to answer all your questions and provide accurate information — so you’ll be empowered to make smart sexual choices with confidence!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014. Accessed from http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats14/surv-2014-print.pdf.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention, July 20, 2001. Available at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/organization/dmid/documents/condomreport.pdf