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Will a Condom Protect Me?

For years you've heard some say, "Use a condom every time you have sex." The implication is that condoms take the risk out of sexual activity, but research shows that's just not the case. According to reliable studies, approximately 14% of couples using condoms for pregnancy prevention get pregnant during the first year of use. In addition, even with 100% use (which is uncommon), condoms at best only reduce the risk (not eliminate it) of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

Do most use condoms consistently?
No. Less than half of 15- to 19-year-old males report using a condom consistently over the past year. And as they get older and more sexually experienced, fewer males use condoms consistently.

How common is correct usage?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), condoms need to be used both consistently AND correctly. Consistent condom use is uncommon, and consistent AND correct use if even more rare. That's not surprising, given that correct use requires a meticulous 6-step procedure that begins after erection occurs.

Do condoms ever slip or break?
Yes. According to research, even if used consistently and correctly, condoms slip off or break from 1.5% to 3.5% of the time.

How effective are condoms at protecting you from STDs?

Human Papilloma Virus
There is virtually no evidence that condoms reduce the risk of HPV infection at all, though they may slightly decrease the number of people who go on to get warts or cervical cancer.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
If used 100% of the time (which is uncommon), condoms only reduce the risk of chlamydia and gonorrhea infection by about half.
Genital Herpes
Based on the limited studies, it appears condoms only reduce the risk of herpes by half at best.
If used 100% of the time, condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 85%.

Sources: "Do Condoms Make Sex Safe Enough?", The Medical Institute. Used by permission.

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP: Go to pregnancydecisionline.org or call 877-791-5475 for Pregnancy Decision Coaching