That's the report from researchers who followed 684 women, aged 14 to 37, for nearly three years.
Women enrolled in the study all had symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease. The painful condition -- caused by germs that travel into the upper region of the genital tract -- is a leading cause of infertility. Every year, a million women get pelvic inflammatory disease. More than 100,000 of them become infertile.
Condom use protected women from the disease, report Roberta Ness, MD, MPH, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and colleagues. Women who said their partners used condoms consistently -- at least six out of 10 times -- were half as likely as infrequent condom users to have another episode of pelvic inflammatory disease.
"The finding is significant because pelvic inflammatory disease tends to recur," Ness says in a news release.
The study, which involved 13 U.S. medical centers, appears in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
SOURCE: Ness, R.B. American Journal of Public Health, Aug. 1, 2004; vol 94.