International Condom Day: Common myths that need to be busted

To mark International Condom Day on Tuesday (13 February), AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kenya is distributing close to a million condoms to the citizens and are conducting HIV tests on nearly a million people in seven counties across South Africa.

Many more activities across the world will mark the day, promoted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) — which operates in 39 countries catering to more than 860,000 patients. The objective is to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases globally and prevent unwanted pregnancies.

This year’s theme picked by AHF is condoms are “Always in Fashion!” As part of the celebrations of the day, AHF has reportedly organised 92 events worldwide, including at least 19 events in the US.

The novel idea germinated in 2009 and has been informally tied to Valentine’s Day — the day of sharing and expressing love.

“Our key message remains that condoms are ‘Always in Fashion’. Regardless of how long you have been with and how well you think you know your intimate partner, condom use is critical,” explained Hilary Thulare, Country Programme Director at AHF South Africa, according to The Citizen website.

Although condoms have become a regular part of many people’s lives who engage in sexual activities, there are many who still shy away or avoid using them because of regressive beliefs.

Despite condoms being a safe and effective tool to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, there is plenty of misinformation among people and many myths, leading to low usage. According to a survey by the US’ Centers for Disease Control, “nearly half (43%) of all sexually active high school students … did not use a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse”.

Here are some common condom myths that need to be debunked:

  • Are condoms safe?

The biggest doubt that people have is that “are condoms safe for use” and how effective they are. The answer to that is that condoms are 98% effective when used correctly, according to Dr Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at New York-based NGO Planned Parenthood, Teen Vogue website notes.

Condoms not only prevent pregnancies but also prevent from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • No condom is needed if you’re having oral or anal sex

As said earlier, condoms are also a protection from sexually transmitted infections so it helps prevent oneself from STIs, especially when there are abrasions on penis or teeth bite, Dr Rajinder Yadav, HOD & Director, Urology, Fortis Hospital New Delhi told the Times of India newspaper.

STIs that can be passed from one partner to another through oral sex include herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphillis and Human papillomavirus (HPV).

  • Putting on two condoms instead of one

According to Dr McDonald-Mosley, “Using one condom consistently and correctly is the best way to reduce your risk of pregnancy and STIs. In fact, putting on more than one condom at once may make them less effective.”

The doctor explained that this will cause more friction and will end up tearing one.

  • Condoms are expensive

“Condoms are one of the most accessible and affordable types of birth control,” Dr McDonald-Mosley added.

They are easily available at the counter without a prescription and if in time of a monetary crunch, they are available at many community health centres for free.

As compared to contraceptive pills, they are easily accessible and does not effect a person’s health.

  • Condoms are uncomfortable and make you less sensitive

This is the most common myth but according to reports, couples have felt as much pleasure with a condom as they have felt without it, Teen Vogue website writes.

Though some condoms are designed to delay orgasms, but it does not mean that it is less sensitive. Moreover, it’s better than getting an abortion, or STIs, the report adds.

Young people of reproductive age have many questions that can only be addressed if we give them access to quality comprehensive sexuality education

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