Using a condom is the best way to avoid becoming infected with HIV (the AIDs virus) and other STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). Here are some things you should know about condoms and STDs.
Some facts about sexually transmitted diseases
- Having sexual intercourse with an infected person is the most common way of becoming infected.
- A large percentage of those infected are teenagers or young adults.
- Your risk of becoming infected increases when you change sexual partners.
- There may be no symptoms soon after infection.
- Symptoms may be easily confused with other illnesses.
Symptoms of STDs – See a doctor if you have any of these
- Pain or burning during urination and/or intercourse.
- Discharge from the vagina, penis and/or rectum.
- Pain in the abdomen (women), testicles (men), and buttocks and legs (both).
- Sores, Blisters, warts, rash, swelling in the genital area, or mouth.
- Fever headache, aching muscles, swollen glands.
Who should use a condom to prevent infection from STDs?
Anyone who takes part in risky sexual activity should wear a condom. The highest risk comes from having intercourse –vaginal, anal or oral — with a person who has a sexually transmitted disease. If you have sex with an infected person, you’re taking a big chance. The best defence is to never have sex with an infected person. If you decide to have sex with an infected partner, you should ALWAYS use a condom from start to finish, every time.
Will using a condom guarantee I won’t get a sexually transmitted disease?
Most experts agree that the risk of getting AIDS [http://www.linknet-columns.com/articles-05/health/article-2.php] and other STDs can be greatly reduced if a condom is used properly. But you can never be 100% guaranteed not to become infected. And certainly condoms are much better than any other contraceptive alternative.
How does a condom protect against sexually transmitted diseases?
A condom is a barrier that prevents the transfer of bodily fluids between partners. If no condom is used, the germs can pass from the infected partner to the uninfected partner.
How do I choose the best condom to prevent STDs?
Read the label. Tests have shown that latex condoms can prevent the passage of STDs while natural (lambskin) condoms may not do this. The package should say that the condoms are effective in preventing disease. If the package doesn’t say anything about preventing disease, the condoms may not provide the protection you want, even though they may be the most expensive ones you can buy.
Novelty condoms will not say anything about either disease prevention or pregnancy prevention on the package. They are intended only for sexual stimulation, not protection.
Condoms which do not cover the entire penis are not labeled for disease prevention and should not be used for this purpose. For proper protection, a condom must unroll to cover the entire penis. This is another good reason to read the label carefully.
What kind of safeguards do condom manufacturers have in place?
All brand name condoms are subjected to rigorous quality control tests at every stage of the manufacturing process. In the US, each condom is electronically tested for holes and defects. Samples are taken from each lot and visually examined using a water leak test. In this test the samples are filled with 300 ml of water and suspended for 3 minutes.
Samples from each lot are also subjected to an Air Inflation Test. This involves filling the test condoms with air until they reach the bursting point. They typically will hold about 40 liters of air — the equivalent of 9 gallons of water!
Other samples are checked for size and thickness, some are tested to destruction for physical strength, and still others are artificially aged by applying high temperatures to ensure that they will retain their quality well beyond their 5 year product life.
Are condoms from vending machines any good?
Using condoms from a vending machine may be risky. The fact is you can’t be sure you are getting a quality latex condom from a vending machine. It may also not be designed (and labelled) for disease prevention, so you may not get the maximum protection. If the vending machine condom contains a spermicide you have no way of knowing if it is outdated. And if the machine is exposed to extreme temperatures and direct sunlight these can easily have an adverse effect on the condoms.
Where should I buy condoms?
The best advice is to buy from a reputable source that deals only in name brand products. If you are buying online, make sure the website features a broad range of name brand condoms, contains helpful information about condom alternatives, and is reachable by phone so you can talk to a real person.