There comes a time in many young people's lives when the word "latex" takes on a new meaning. No longer is it a protective tool for your hands, but something much greater.
I am talking about condoms.
Condoms are a popular contraception tool for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood defines a condom as a "thin, stretchy pouch you wear on your penis during sex." Or, as the kid in my fourth grade class put it on our elementary school's sex education trip, "that little balloon you're not supposed to blow up."
Though data on STDs and condom use is limited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say consistent latex condom use reduces the risk for STDs including chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis.
Female condoms, though less well known, are pouches put into the vagina, giving more control to prevent HIV/STDs.
Planned Parenthood states using a condom, if used perfectly every time, is 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. But, in actual practice, condoms are 85 percent effective.
When looking at protecting yourself and your partner, how does someone know if they have covered all their bases? The CDC lays out some tips.
Dos and Don'ts of using a male condom:
- Do use a condom every time you choose to have sex. Obviously.
- Do put on a condom before having sex, making sure to check the expiration date.
- Do not put condoms in a wallet or pockets, as heat and friction can damage them.
- Do not go crazy with the baby oil and lotion. A broken condom will not make your experience more enjoyable.
- Do not use more than one condom at a time. It is ambitious, I respect it. But, it defeats the purpose.
- Do not reuse a condom. Gross.
There are other contraceptive tools to use for pregnancy as well, including birth control oral pills, hormonal implants or injections, contraceptive vaginal rings or spermicide. However, latex condoms are the most effective method for preventing STDs, according to the CDC.
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