I’ve seen myths about condoms all over the internet which lead to unfounded (and dangerous) distrust of condoms.
The fact is, condoms do not get microscopic tears and they are effective at preventing pregnancy (and sexually transmitted infections, too!).
Unfortunately, a lot of anti-condom bias comes from people who are anti-sex, and this misinformation gets passed on by others who either don’t have the correct information, or who buy in to the idea that condoms (or sex) is an evil that must be controlled.
The fact is, condoms do work to prevent pregnancy (and STIs) and are highly effective!
I truly believe condoms are one of the best birth control methods out there; they don’t interfere with anyone’s hormones or physiology, they are easy to use, they prevent pregnancy and STIs, anyone can buy them, and their perfect use rate is 98%! There really is no other method of birth control that can do all of these things.
The main myth I want to address is their effectiveness. I’ve heard some people say they can have micro tears and that you have to very carefully inspect them after each act of sex, but that is just not true.
Condoms are designed so it’s quite obvious when they fail. If they burst, they really burst. You probably will notice (either hearing a sound or feeling it), there will be obvious holes and the semen will not be able to be held in. So as long as that semen is contained, you can be confident that it held true.
In terms of how well they work, the perfect use rate is 98% and the typical use rate is 85%.
The failure will come either from slipping off or from breakage, and both of these are obvious. As long as it’s still on the penis when they withdraw and there is semen in the tip of it then you know it worked. Another good thing to know is that research shows the more you use them the better you will get at it. Practice makes perfect, right?
They key is to use them properly. The best way to do this is to put them on before any penetration, make sure there’s enough lube so it glides in easily, and to pull out before the erection is lost to prevent semen leaking out. If you’ve had a lot of breaks and slippages it probably means you need a different size condom, so have a look at what other options are out there.
If it does break, you do have the option of emergency contraception (EC)! Luckily in North America and Europe this is pretty easy to come by, you can get it from free clinics and buy it at pharmacies. Check out this website for more information about how it works and call your local family planning office to find out where to get it.
And if you’re charting your cycles and using condoms in combination with the Fertility Awareness Method, there may be days where you don’t need to take EC because you will know with confidence that you cannot get pregnant that day. STIs are another matter of course, so I would encourage you to get a check up if you don’t know the status of your partner.
I know a lot of people think they are a bother and would rather not use them, but they truly are the most effective barrier method. In order to make the experience better try adding more lubricant, and try thinking about all the amazing things they can do for you instead of focusing on the negatives. With a change in mindset and focus on the positive, perhaps you will be able to appreciate and love them as much as I do one day.
Have questions about safer sex or using condoms or other birth control methods (with or without the Fertility Awareness Method)? Contact me and I can help!