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Good Health with Emily > Are Condoms Cure All's?

Are there any STD's you can get, even if you use a condom every time? If there are, what can you do to protect yourself from those STD's?

August 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCUNY Student

Hello CUNY Student!

According to guidelines provided by the CDC, condoms (when used correctly) prevent HIV, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and using them may reduce the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women. Since HPV and Herpes are so contagious, it is uncertain as to whether or not using latex condoms are an effective method for protecting against them. There are many more chances of transmitting an STI even if a condom is used. A recent study of college women showed that the women had a 70% reduction in their risk of getting HPV (that refers to warts) with consistent condom use. So, condoms don’t protect from viral infections 100%, but 70% is better than 0% protection. At the end of this blog there are more tips on how to protect your health in addition to using condoms consistently and correctly.

Over the years, condoms have gained a less than stellar reputation. Some people are worried that condoms aren’t as effective or will break, so they just don’t use them. Condoms are effective in preventing STIs and pregnancy when used correctly and consistently. Sexually Transmitted Infections, rather than Sexually Transmitted Diseases, is the new and more applicable name. Not all STI’s are diseases, they are mostly infections, which is why they are now deemed, “STI’s”. Also, for every 100 condoms used, only about 2 of them break. Remember, all condom brands sold in the U.S. have been approved by the FDA. Condoms are approved for reducing the risk of disease and pregnancy. Contracting STIs and getting pregnant usually occur when people do not use the condoms as directed as opposed to condoms breaking.

So, which condoms will you use? Condoms are a lot like vibrators. There are many different shapes, sizes, flavors, colors, and some even glow in the dark. ☺ Some men say that they don’t like using a condom because they can’t feel anything. That is just not true at all! Men still have sensation in their penis when they use condoms. Latex is the best material for your condoms. They are a strong substance, they stay on the penis well, and they prevent most STIs. Plus they are less expensive that the other 2 options. The brand of condoms also matters. The more prominent brands such as Trojan and Lifestyle are a little more reliable than unknown brands.

If you are allergic to Latex, you can opt for the Polyurethane condoms. They offer the same protection as latex, but they are a little more prone to breakage. A second alternative to latex is the natural or Lamb Skin Condoms. These are fine for preventing pregnancy, but the pores in this material are big enough to let viruses through. Viruses such as HIV/AIDS, HPV, Hepatitis, Herpes are among these. If you are concerned about STI prevention, Natural condoms are not advisable. Go with the latex or polyurethane instead.

There is also the Female Condom, which is not as popular and more expensive than male condoms. One type of female condom, when inserted into the vagina, provides an opening that protrudes from the vagina and covers a portion of the vulva. If you are trying to prevent labia contact, this could be a very good option to look into. Below are the CDC’s guidelines for proper condom use.

• Use a new condom with each sex act (e.g., oral, vaginal,
and anal).
• Carefully handle the condom to avoid damaging it with
fingernails, teeth, or other sharp objects.
• Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any
genital, oral, or anal contact with the partner.
• Use only water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y Jelly™,
Astroglide™, AquaLube™, and glycerin) with latex
condoms. Oil-based lubricants (e.g., petroleum jelly,
shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and
cooking oil) can weaken latex.
• Ensure adequate lubrication during vaginal and anal sex,
which might require the use of exogenous water-based
lubricants.
• To prevent the condom from slipping off, hold the con-
dom firmly against the base of the penis during with-
drawal, and withdraw while the penis is still erect.
(www.cdc.gov)

So, what can you do to FULLY protect yourself from contracting all STIs? In reality, abstinence is the best way to prevent contracting STIs or preventing pregnancy. Another alternative to protecting yourself from highly contagious STIs like HPV and HIV is MONOGAMY. If you are serious about reducing your own risk, try to have sexual encounters with as few (ideally, 1) people as you can in your lifetime. The catch is that that person you are monogamous with should be monogamous too. Otherwise they are at risk of contracting infections and therefore putting you at risk.

If you are not monogamous, in addition to using condoms, you might also try dental dams and latex gloves during foreplay and oral stimulation. These cut down on the risk of contracting the STIs that can be acquired through skin-to-skin contact. I know, latex gloves may be a little more doctor and a little less romantic, but preventing disease is sexier than putting yourself at risk for a life-long disease. If your partner has HPV or Herpes, you should both abstain from sexual contact while they are having an outbreak because this is when the risk is greatest for being passed.

Well CUNY student, I hope that this helped you to make your future sexual experiences more enjoyable and safer. ☺

Your Loving Sex-pert,

Emily

Eao2116@columbia.edu

October 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterEmily Owens