It’s common knowledge that condoms rank among the most effective forms of contraception. When used correctly, they can significantly reduce the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. As per manufacturer specifications, condoms are 98 per cent effective in terms of STD prevention.
New research, however, suggests that the numbers could be much lower for certain kinds of diseases.
Why Do Condoms Fail Sometimes?
All sexually transmitted infections spread in one of two ways – through the transmission of bodily fluids or through skin to skin contact.
Condoms work best for the prevention of infections that spread through bodily fluids. These include HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, hepatitis B and HPV.
Evidence suggests that even if a person puts on the condom incorrectly, the degree of protection against these conditions is high. That’s because the material the condom is made of acts as a barrier. It keeps bodily fluids from coming in contact, which makes the spread of the disease-causing agent almost impossible.
Condoms, however, cannot cover all of the genital skin. That’s when issues may arise. STDs that result from skin to skin contact may still spread. And the risk of this happening is fairly high. While some infections cause the appearance of skin lesions or sores, others are completely asymptomatic. In that case, a carrier wouldn’t know they’re infected.
Conditions That Condoms May Be Ineffective at Preventing
Researchers have found out that condoms are not that great at preventing conditions like the herpes simplex virus (HSV), molluscum contagiosum, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
The last two STDs in the list are very tricky due to the fact that they spread both ways – through bodily fluid transmissions and skin to skin contact.
The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious, even when it doesn’t cause symptoms. That’s the reason why it is one of the most widespread STDs on the planet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 417 million people have HSV.
While condoms can reduce the risk of an infection, they don’t eliminate it altogether.
Syphilis is another tricky condition. Caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, syphilis can be transmitted through direct contact with a sore. Once again – a condom can cover most of the genital region and reduce the risk of an infection. It, however, doesn’t eliminate the threat altogether.
Finally, and surprisingly, research suggests that the effectiveness of condoms against the transmission of gonorrhoea and chlamydia is lower than previously believed.
The reason for this phenomenon is surprising. The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea and chlamydia can be present in areas other than the genital tract. These include the throat, rectum and even eyes. Close contact and exchange of bodily fluids will thus occur in more than one way. A condom isn’t going to be effective whenever the pathogen is not contained in the genital area.
Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Condoms and Protect Yourself
While these soundings may sound alarming, condoms are still very reliable. Pairing their use with regular STD screening reduces the risk of contracting an infection significantly.
In order to protect yourself and your partner, you can count on a few simple strategies.
For a start, choose the right condom kind and size. A loose condom is more likely to slip. A condom that’s too tight is at a higher risk of breakage. Most guys will do just fine with a standard condom. Still, making sure that the fit is just right can prevent a lot of headache later on. Having many brands and varieties to choose among means you’ll easily get to identify the variety that’s just right for you.
Proper storage and not keeping a condom around for too long will both be important, as well.
Keep your condoms in a cool, dry place. Having a condom in your wallet isn’t a good idea because the place can get quite heated. There will also be a lot of friction with daily wallet use.
The shelf life of a condom is three to five years. It shouldn’t be kept longer than that as the material can deteriorate and offer less reliable protection. Check out information manufacturer has featured on the topic and use condoms within the allotted timeframe.
Knowing your STD status is as important as using condoms correctly.
Even if you are in a committed monogamous relationship or a marriage, you can’t just assume that you’re negative. Getting tested with your partner at least once per year is the responsible thing to do. If they’re not open to the concept of STD testing, you can have a more thorough discussion on the topic. Understanding their fears and insecurities will provide a bonding opportunity. Building trust together and being empathetic will usually help to change your partner’s current stance.
To learn more and get screened, visit a Singapore men’s health clinic like Shim Clinic. At Shim Clinic, you’ll get to as important sexual health questions during a fully confidential consultation. You’ll also get screening and prevention tips that are in line with your lifestyle. Contact Shim Clinic now to learn more about our services or visit the clinic during working hours every day of the week.