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Condom Efficacy and STDs

Updated on January 14, 2011

Think condoms are all you need to keep you STD free? Think again, my friend -- think again. Not only are condoms far less effective than most people think they are, you can still get a number sexually transmitted diseases while using them, even if you use them 100% correctly. Now, I'm not trying to pull a Chicken Little here, I'm just imparting some wisdom to the general public, because I feel it's a travesty that so few people are ever taught more than, "Use a condom and you'll be fine." To be sure, you should always use a condom if you're not sure of your or your partner's status, but condoms are not a magic ticket to keeping your health and I'm going to tell you why.

How Effective Are Condoms?

The official reports will tell you that condoms are 98% effective. What those reports fail to mention is that as few as 80% of the population use condoms correctly and suffer breaking, slips and tears as a result. That means 20% of the population has a decent chance of getting pregnant or contracting an STD every time they are intimate. Sound like good odds to you? Not to me, mate.

What DON'T Condoms Protect Against?

While condoms are pretty good at protecting against HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HPV and Trichomoniasis and Herpes, some of these diseases can be contracted via touching and need not be transmitted through actual sex. Let me explain:

  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea -- These are bacterial diseases that can be passed by touching. I won't go into details here, but if you use your imagination, I'm sure you can figure out how touching an infected person and then touching yourself in the same area can result in an infection. Bacteria does not evaporate when it hits the air, nor does it die easily the way HIV does. This means it's possible to transmit without being intimate in the way you might think necessary. These can both be passed via the mouth as well.

  • Syphilis -- Syphilis is not a bacteria and it's not a virus. A Syphilis chancre can be anywhere on the body and one need only come into contact with it to contract it. If someone has one in their mouth and you kiss them, you can wind up with one in your mouth as well. Therefore, condoms aren't necessarily going to protect you from this.

  • Herpes -- This can really spread out and the blisters can be in places not easily seen. A condom will not protect from skin to skin contact in every area that Herpes can show up, so it's only effective in preventing this in one specific way.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Get tested regularly. The stupidest thing a person can do is go years without testing. Getting tested on a regular basis is just good sense. If you've got something, most diseases are very easily treated. And if you've got something, it's your responsibility to make sure you don't pass it on to others.

  • Use condoms every time, and use them CORRECTLY!

  • Do not engage in risky sexual behavior that a condom cannot protect against until you're sure you and your partner are disease free.


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