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Condom Use Errors

Mar 09, 2012

Do you and your partner use condoms correctly? According a recent study, many people don’t.

Researchers examined 50 different peer-reviewed studies published between 2005 and 2011 to learn more about how people around the world use male condoms. Their analysis appears in the February 17, 2012 edition of Sexual Health.

Male condoms are considered effective for reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STD (sexually-transmitted disease) transmission. However, using condoms incorrectly raises these risks.

The research team documented a variety of condom use mistakes:

·         Failure to use a condom for the entire sexual encounter. Many couples put the condom on too late, removed it too soon, or both. “The condom should be put on the penis before intercourse and remain on the penis throughout intercourse (the entire time the penis is in contact with the vagina, anus, or mouth),” the authors said.

They added that a new condom should be used for each type of intercourse. For example, if a couple has vaginal intercourse and then decides to have oral sex, a new condom should be put on before the oral sex begins.

·         Failure to open the condom package correctly. Some couples used sharp objects to open the package, tearing the condom and making it ineffective.

·         Using expired condoms or condoms that haven’t been stored properly.  Condoms have expiration dates and can deteriorate with age. They should be stored in a cool, dry place.

·         Failure to inspect the condom before using it / using broken condoms. According to the study, most participants did not check for damage before using a condom. Some noticed that a condom was broken, but used it anyway.

·         Putting the condom on incorrectly. Some men completely unrolled the condom before putting it on. Others did not unroll it all the way to the base of the penis. Some did not squeeze air out from the tip or did not leave space at the tip to catch semen.

Some men mistakenly put condoms on inside-out. They then removed them and put them on the other way, exposing the partner to pre-ejaculatory fluid, which can still transmit STDs.

·         Lubricant issues. Many study participants did not use a lubricant. This practice causes more friction, increasing the odds of breakage.

Others did not use the right kind of lubricant. The authors cautioned that only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil, can damage latex.

·         Improper withdrawal. Some participants did not hold the rim of the condom when withdrawing, increasing the risk of leakage.

The study authors stressed the importance of proper condom use for preventing unintended pregnancies and STDs. “Closing the gap between perfect use and the errors characterizing typical use is one of the most crucial challenges of future condom promotion programs,” they wrote.