Condom Errors Common, Raise STD Risks
Incorrect Condom Usage Linked to Gonorrhea Infections
WebMD News Archive
July 25, 2005 -- It's not enough to use a condom and assume you're protected
from sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.
A new study shows that the condom has to be put on and used correctly in
order to provide maximum protection.
Researchers found errors in condom usage and breakage were common and were
associated with an increased risk of gonorrhea infection in men.
"The importance of proper condom use seems obvious, yet the results from
this study demonstrate that it must be taught to even sexually experienced
adults and that the lack of correct use can be linked to
infection," write researcher Diane Grimley of the University of Alabama at
Birmingham and colleagues.
"The tendency to assume that consistent condom users are using condoms
correctly seriously underestimates their risk of transmitting or contracting
STDs or becoming pregnant unintentionally," they write.
Condom Errors Common
In the study, researchers studied more than 1,100 men and women treated at a
public STD clinic in the Southeastern U.S. who reported using a condom in the
past 30 days and collected samples for STD testing.
Researchers found more than 15% of the patients tested positive for one or
both of the two most common sexually transmitted diseases treated at the
clinic, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
The survey showed that nearly one in four of the participants reported
errors in condom use in the past month.
More women reported errors such as not leaving a space at the tip of the
condom or not removing air from the tip of the condom. Men were more likely to
report condom misuse such as putting a condom on inside out and then flipping
it over to have sex or experienced a condom breaking in the last month.
Men who experienced a condom breaking in the last 30 days were nearly twice
as likely to be infected with gonorrhea as those who didn't.
Other errors in condom use shown by the study include:
- Not holding the base of the condom during withdrawal
- Unrolling the condom before putting it on
- Started having sex, then put on the condom during intercourse
- Reused a condom
All of these condom errors reduce the effectiveness of condoms in protecting
against STD infection and unintentional pregnancy.
Researchers say the results highlight a need to promote correct as well as
consistent condom usage.