condoms and STIs

Condoms and STIs: How Safe Am I?

You probably had at least one movie character crush who you admire or who has a special place in your heart. Think of the romantic challenges of the character, who often goes through his or her life without taking into account his or her sexual health or the sexual health of their partners. 

Most of us have witnessed hundreds of movie kisses before we really kissed anyone. In other words, we have been learning about things that we will experience in one way or another, which we often know only from the media. It’s called behavioral modeling, and it emphasizes the importance of learning by observing other people whom we consider credible.

Often, we don't talk to anyone else about the concerns in our sexual health, and we're not really sure how it should work or look. We have nothing to compare it to, so our only model is what Hollywood serves us. And this is where we rarely (or never) learn about the basics of safe sex. 

Why Condoms Are Important 

In this story, you can partially blame the media for irresponsible sex behavior because the messages they send is that sex always has to be totally spontaneous. 

It's a myth and completely unrealistic, like so many other factors in sex on film. If condoms were portrayed as a normal part of love life in movies, people who were just exploring their first sexual experiences would not so easily believe all the sex myths that are still prevalent in casual conversations. 

More importantly, condoms are not even mentioned in the movies because they are taken for granted, talked about negatively, or used to make the audience laugh. 

How Representation of Sex Affects Us

After all those hours we spent watching intimate content, it is quite likely that you will be left with two messages:

  1. Condoms are either unnecessary because there will be no consequences anyway. 
  2. They disturb and destroy the mood or are somehow related to shame/embarrassment. 

It's not exactly a promotion of safe sex and sexual health in general. Once your partner insists on using them, there’s no need for ridicule, shaming, or embarrassment. Do you think you’re completely safe with a partner with whose sexual health you’re not familiar with? 

Unless you have had only one partner with whom you have a purely monogamous relationship from the beginning, you’re at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). No sexual intercourse is completely safe. Some STIs spread very easily and often do not have recognizable symptoms. 

In case you or your partner have never been tested for sexually transmitted infections, you are at risk of contracting one. Condoms are still the safest method of contraception, but remember, they do not to prevent every single pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. 

However, condoms significantly reduce the chance of getting one. Without them, you have no protection. The physical barrier that a condom provides, protects you from almost all STIs.

How Safe Are Condoms in the Prevention of STIs

Latex condoms are the safest method to prevent an STI due to its impermeability to STI pathogens. The pathogens are found in bodily fluids that are exchanged when you aren’t using condoms. If you use a condom correctly, you can prevent the transmission of the following STIs:

  • HIV
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Nonetheless, lambskin condom, although natural, fails to prevent an STI because of its porosity. Also, if the infection can be spread through skin-to-skin contact (mucosal surfaces, lesions, or contact with infected skin), you’re most likely to contract one even if you use a condom. The three most prevalent STIs you can get if you wear a condom are:

  • Syphilis, 
  • Genital herpes, and
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).

Are You Using the Right Condom Brand?

  1. Avoid using condoms purely for pleasure. Most new manufacturers put the focus on stimulation instead of STI protection. Read the labels; if they fail to mention STI prevention, stop buying them.
  1. Always use lubricated condoms, even if you and your partner don’t need extra lubrication. Woman’s vagina naturally produces lubrication. Nonetheless, it doesn’t happen every time. When a condom has lubrication, it makes the friction more pleasurable and prevents the condom from breaking easily. 
  1. Never buy expired condoms. Every condom has an expiration date. If it’s past that date, it’s more likely to break. Stay safe and throw it away in case you already bought it.
  1. Avoid buying or using condoms that are not stored correctly. Friction or heat can destroy the quality of a condom. If you store it in a hot and moist place, or at an extremely cold temperature, it will probably break down or lose its elasticity.

How Often Do You Use Condoms?

Condoms are the safest method to prevent most common sexually transmitted diseases. Still, inform yourself about the potential dangers of the STIs that can be transferred through skin contact and enjoy intimate moments with your partner.

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