Condoms have become the ubiquitous symbol of safe sex, but according to a special edition of the journal Sexual Health exploring global condom use, they are still not being used to their full potential—if at all.
The journal reveals that only 20% of adults in the United States reported using a condom during their last roll in the hay. Even worse, less than half of adults with multiple partners used a condom the last time they had sex.
Sexual Health also touches on the various issues with data collection in studies, including study subjects who incorrectly report frequency of condom use. So not only is it possible that less people are using condoms than the studies show, condoms may be even more effective at preventing pregnancy and the spread of disease than we thought.
Researchers are trying to figure out how to increase the accuracy of future studies to make an even stronger case for this little prophylactic wonder, including using “biological markers of semen exposure detected in vaginal specimens after coitus” to pinpoint the exact moment of infection. Imagine the collection methods for that data.
Condoms are convenient, cheap and the most effective way to engage in safe sex, so what’s the hesitation? Hung up on the whole “it-doesn’t-feel-as-good” trope? Know your options! Stop by a local sex shop or go online. Stores like Babeland have tons of choices—multicolored, ribbed, super thin, et cetera—and you can pick and choose single condoms for a customized pleasure pack. Experiment and find what works best for you. Still not convinced? In one study, women with HPV who used condoms lessened symptoms of their disease at a much higher rate than nonusers, 23% compared to 4%, respectively. In another study, condoms eradicated the transmission of syphilis. I’m pretty sure a condom feels a lot better than syphilis. Also, according to Planned Parenthood, condoms can help an erection last longer. Bonus!
Have your condoms? Good. Now use them correctly. The journal reports that some people are actually putting condoms on after starting sex and taking them off before the grand finale. On purpose. (Wait, what? Stop that!) Aside from this phenomenon, other barriers to correct use include breaking, slippage and putting the condom on inside out. Oy.
A proper fit is everything. Be sure to cover the entire length of the erect penis, including the shaft, which will increase protection against diseases such as herpes and gonorrhea. Get to know some of the condom’s best buddies. Spermicidal foams and creams are a great way to enhance a condom’s effectiveness at preventing unwanted pregnancy. They are easy to insert and help condoms fight those dastardly little sperm. Lubes are fun and help avoid friction and tearing.
One more thing: consider using the female condom. Research shows that they can have the same benefits as the male condom, plus the added benefit of covering additional surface area, making them even better at preventing STDs. Females…always multitasking.
Get out there and sex it up responsibly!