STDs and Condom Use

Interrupting the “moment” to find and put on a condom can be less than sexy. But what’s even less sexy is having to make, or receive, a call a few weeks or month later to say that you have an STD.

Read on to find out how using condoms can protect you and your sexual partner(s).

What Are Condoms?

Condoms are devices or “barrier methods” (typically made of latex) that are worn on the penis (male condom) or inserted into the vagina (female condom), or placed in front of the vagina or anus during cunnilingus and oral stimulation of the anus (dental dam) and act as a preventative barrier against the transmission of viruses and bacteria from passing between sexual partners during oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. 

Responsible and consistent use of condoms and dental dams should be part of anyone’s sex life. Safe sex practices, such as using a condom, not only assist in preventing unplanned pregnancies, but also in decreasing the likelihood of the transmission of a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). 

Aside from abstaining from sex completely, or staying in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner, there is no 100% protection against the spread of any STD. However Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom dramatically reduces the risk of transmitting STDs. 

Consistent and correct condom use consists of the following standards:

  • Using a new condom for every sexual encounter (never reuse a condom even if you wash it)
  • Use a condom for the entire sexual act (start to finish) this includes starting with oral sex
  • Switch to a new condom if you start out having anal sex and switch to vaginal sex. This avoids bacteria from the rectum being passed to the vagina, which would result in an infection of the vagina and urinary tract and potentially cause other harmful complications
  • If lubrication is use, be sure to use a water based option as oil based lubricants can lead to tears and breakage of the condom

If the condom breaks during the act, stop immediately and put on a new condom

Statistics on the efficacy of condom use and prevention is based on laboratory and epidemiological studies along with empirical data and STD rate studies over the years.

Laboratory studies have demonstrated that the use of latex condoms is effective against most strains and molecular structures of STD’s.

Epidemiologic studies that compared the rate of STD infections in condom users versus non-condom who have sex with infected partners show that consistent condom result is significantly lower rates of transmission. While there are unknown variables, due to unknown private sexual behaviors, the outcomes are significant enough to make broad generalizations about the effectiveness of condom use.

Empirical data showed that while condoms will provide a reasonable level of protection for many STDs, there are still risks due to the fact that condoms may not cover all of the skin that could become infected. 

Condoms provide the most significant protection against STD’s that are transmitted through contact with or the exchange of genital fluids. The risk associated with skin-to-skin transmission of STD’s is reduced but not eliminated by the use of a condom. Some STD’s that may still be transmitted even when a condom is properly used are: genital herpes, human papillomavirus [HPV] infection, syphilis, and chancroid).

The failure of a condom to protect against STD transmission is typically from inconsistent or incorrect usage, rather than product failure. 

To achieve maximum protection one must know how to correctly use a condom, and then use them consistently. STDAware provides some general usage tips, below.

How Do To Wear A Condom/Dental Dam

Male Condoms

Before applying a male condom be sure to read the instructions on the packaging and check expiration date. Then follow the instructions below:

  • Carefully remove the condom from the packaging
  • Place the condom at the top of the penis (penis must be fully erect for condom to go on properly)
  • If the condom does not have a reservoir tip, create one by pinching the tip as you roll the condom down (reservoir tips ensure semen does not spill over the edges of the condom after ejaculation)
  • To remove the condom so that no fluid is spilled, grip the rim and carefully withdraw
  • Dispose of the condom properly by wrapping in tissue in discarding in an appropriate receptacle.
  • DO NOT use more than one condom at a time. Wearing multiple condoms (referred to as double bagging) does not create any additional protection and, in fact, increases the risk of condom break and slippage, not to mention, discomfort.

To see what the CDC says about proper male condom use click here.
https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/male-condom-use.html

Female Condoms

Before inserting a female condom, read the instructions on the packaging and check the expiration date. Then follow the instruction below:

  • Carefully remove the condom from the packaging
  • Locate the closed end which attached to the thicker ring (the thick ring will be inserted into the vagina and will hold the condom in place, the thinner ring will remain on the outside of the vaginal opening)
  • Squeeze the sides of the thicker ring with your thumb and forefinger and insert into the vagina (similar to a tampon)
  • Use your finger to push the condom up as high as it will go
  • The condom should expand naturally and should you should not feel it
  • Adjust the condom so that it is not twisted before penetration
  • To remove a female condom, gently twist the outer ring and pull the condom out
  • Dispose of the condom properly by wrapping in tissue in discarding in an appropriate receptacle.

DO NOT use both a female condom and male condom in a single sexual encounter. Having intercourse when both partners are wearing condoms can result in condom breakage. 

To see what the CDC has to say about proper female condom use, click here. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/Female-condom-use.html

Dental Dams

Before using a dental dam, read the instructions on the packaging and check the expiration date. Then follow the instruction below:

  • Carefully remove the condom from the packaging
  • Place in front of the vagina or anus and use for the entire oral act from start to finish
  • Dispose of the dental dam properly by wrapping in tissue in discarding in an appropriate receptacle.

If you do not have a dental dam, they are easy to make from a male or female condom in 3 steps

  1. Cut the tip of the condom off
  2. Cut the base of the condom off
  3. Make a cut up one side of the condom to create a rectangle or square

To see what the CDC has to say about correct dental dam usage, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/Dental-dam-use.html

When using a male or female condom, or a dental dam, remember to use a new condom for every sexual act from start to finish and if using lubrication to ensure it is water based (oil-based lubricants such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly or baby oil can cause latex to weaken and become porous or break. If the condom breaks during sex, stop immediately and put on a new condom before resuming sexual activity. 

Who should use condoms?

Anyone who is sexually active should consistently use a condom and/or other form of protection during any type of sexual encounter. Condoms are accessible at most local drug stores, non-profit social and sexual health services (such as planned parenthood or other awareness programs).

Male latex condoms, when used correctly, can provide 98% protection against STDs during oral, vaginal and anal sex, but are only an estimated 82% effective with typical use. Female condoms are 95% effective when used properly, but only 79% effective with typical usage. Even though female condoms are highly effective, they are not as sufficient as male condoms at blocking diseases. 

Overall, the most effective condoms, when used correctly, are latex male condoms (condoms made out of materials besides latex, are porous and may allow the transmission of viruses). Proper use of male latex condoms are a good defensive measure for blocking diseases such as chlamydia, genital, and oral herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, B, and C, syphilis, genital warts (human papillomavirus -HPV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV– the deadly virus that leads to AIDS). 

How Do I Ask My Partner To Wear A Condom?

Openly and maturely discussing safe sex practices and requirements is your right as part of defending your sexual health and overall well-being. While the initial conversation can feel awkward or daunting, it is far less painful than getting an STD. If you feel uncomfortable talking about your demands for safe sex it could be an indication that they aren’t someone you should be having sex with.

The best time to talk with a partner about condom use is before sex or sexual contact is initiated. Waiting until the “heated” moments leading up to a sexual act can be frustrating and lead to poor judgment. If you or your partner is uninterested in using a condom, it is advised that you are both tested for a full panel of STDs before engaging in sexual activity together. If the test results are negative for both parties, then engaging in unprotected and worry free sex is an option. If the test results come back positive the infected party can then seek appropriate treatment before moving forward.  

In general, any sexually active individual should be routinely tested for STDs anytime there is a change in sexual partners or habits. Proactive and pre-emptive measures for ensuring sexual health and wellness are paramount to a full and happy sex life.

STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. Click here to learn more about the testing and treatment options available at STDAware.com

But Condoms Are Uncomfortable

A common excuse for not wanting to use a condom is that intercourse does not feel as “good” or sensational when using a barrier method. In today’s modern world of condoms and accessories there is a wide variety of brands, sizes, shapes, thickness, flavors, and textures of condoms to choose from. And with a little enthusiastic experimentation the “right” fit can be found and enjoyed by both parties. 

If you have a latex allergy, there are other effective condom materials available. Click here to learn more about latex condom alternatives.

Weigh The Risks & Rewards

When it comes to your health and well-being you are the only and best person to safeguard yourself from unwanted pregnancy and STDs. 

If your partner simply does not want to or refuses to use a condom, and you are unsure about their sexual history, there are several things to consider.

  1. What type of relationship you are creating by agreeing to having unprotected sex with someone who is not willing to use protection. Using a condom demonstrates a level of respect for yourself and your sexual partner(s)
  2. There are numerous additional consequences of contracting an STD. Many STDs can lead to permanent damage to the internal organs and tissue, if left untreated or undiagnosed for prolonged periods of time. Many STDs can lead to infertility, damage to the nervous system, brain damage and even death
  3. Some STDs are curable with an antibiotic but many are not. And, once infected, an individual will stay infected for the rest of their life. STDs that have no known cure are Herpes, Genital Warts, Hepatitis A and B, and HIV (the deadly autoimmune disease that leads to AIDS)
  4. Having certain STDs greatly increase the risk of also contracting HIV

You CANNOT tell if someone has an STD by looking at them or their genitals. The majority of people are asymptomatic (meaning show no physical or obvious signs) when they have a STD. This makes the spread of STDs very easy and common. The only way to know if you have an STD is to GET TESTED.

If you or your partner are set on not using protection during sex it is prudent to avoid sexual interaction until you have both been tested for STDs and feel comfortable moving forward with unprotected sex.

STDAware makes getting tested quick, easy, and accessible.

STD testing before sexual activity is a key preventative and safe sex measure. To find out more about how quick, easy, and accessible STD testing with STDAware is, click here.

What to do if the condom breaks

If the condom breaks and you are with someone that has an STD or whom you have no knowledge of their sexual history there are a few things to do.

  1. Stop the sexual act immediately
  2. If you choose to continue having sex, remove the broken condom and replace with a new one
  3. Assess the situation and ask the appropriate questions about sexual health and history
  4. GET TESTED. The only way to know if you have an STD or treat an STD is to get tested. Click here to see the full panel and individual testing options offered at STDAware.com
  5. If you are worried about pregnancy, most pharmacies will provide solutions and testing options
  6. GET TREATED. If your test results come back positive for having an STD, STDAware provides no-cost medical consultation and treatment options. Click here to learn more about the medical advice services offered at STDAware.com

Read more information about what to do if the condom breaks on the STDAware blog by clicking here.

 Education & Prevention

There are a host of myths about safe sex that are responsible for the ongoing spread of STDs, such as: 

  • Birth Control Is NOT Safe Sex: A common and fallacious myth about birth control pills is that it prevents both pregnancy and STDs. This is NOT TRUE. Birth control (or oral contraceptive) is a hormonal medication that women take to prevent pregnancy and ONLY pregnancy. Even if you are on “the pill” it is critical to use a condom.

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The need for better awareness and education are vital to the health and wellbeing of our future generations. As such, the provision of educational resources on healthy sexual behaviors and the de-stigmatizing of STD testing is something that STDAware is working towards everyday. 

STDAware offers no-cost resource and consultation services. Click here to visit STDAware.com and learn more about how you can defend your sexual health.

To “Wrap It Up”

Consistently and correctly using condoms, in addition to routine STD testing, is the best way to prevent the spread of STDs and to maintain overall health and well-being. 

Early identification is key factor in the successful treatment of any STD before they can pose a larger health complication. Routine and responsible STD testing is part of being a mature individual who is in charge of their sexual and overall health. At the end of the day, regular testing is not just about avoiding passing STDs back and forth, but preventing larger health risks and demonstrating an individual’s control over their physical health. 

STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. Take charge of your sexual health and GET TESTED.

Fast, Private & Affordable STD Testing


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