This weekend is the last official weekend of the Summer, plus it’s carnival, but what could this possibly have to do with condoms? If you’re looking for some last minute summer fun, a condom should be one of your top 3 accessories.
They are the most effective way of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, which coincidentally are at the bottom of the ‘hottest summer accessories’ list. Many people seem to forget about STI’s and only focus on preventing pregnancy when thinking about contraception. However, the number of people getting STI’s is sharply on the rise, and you trust me you don’t have to be promiscuous to get one. I always say to my patients ‘you have to remember that you’re not just sharing germs with the person you are sleeping with, but also with every person they’ve ever slept with, and the people they slept with too…’ I get a lot of grossed out faces, but it’s food for thought, isn’t it? Whilst many STI’s are quite simple to treat they’re often asymptomatic, so can go untreated for a long time, and can have major long-term health consequences, particularly where future fertility comes into question. Condoms do of course also prevent pregnancy though. On the effectiveness scale for pregnancy prevention however, they’re pretty mediocre on paper. Male condoms are 82% effective with typical use, and this rises to 98% with perfect use. This is compared for example to the pill which with typical use is 91% effective and over 99% with perfect use. But how can this be if I’m singing their praises?
It’s all about how you use them.
According to a study in the US, the commonest condom-related error was putting the condom on upside-down and then flipping it over, closely followed by taking it off too soon, and then putting it on too late. Disregarding the second factor of taking it off too soon, which slightly baffles me because its seemingly obvious it won’t work, the reason the first and the last factors will reduce the efficacy of condoms is because pre-ejaculatory fluid from the penis, that can be so small you might not even notice it can actually contain semen. A pretty interesting study was performed to demonstrate that 31% of pre-ejaculatory fluid contains healthy, motile sperm (ie. the type that is ready and willing to brave the river rapids of the vagina and cervix to make it to an egg that’s floating along the lazy fallopian tube river, fertilize it and implant in the lush, pillowy lining of the womb to make a baby), so using the ‘condom flip’ or the ‘sorry I’m a bit late to the party’ condom are essentially like not bothering with one at all on one in three occasions. This is another reason that the withdrawal method is so darn ineffective. From my experience of patients, and also acquaintances I have come to realise that a surprising number of people use this contraceptive method, even people that I would have regarded as ‘too sensible’, and I do wonder whether many people realise it’s only about 74% effective. A pretty shocking study in the US recently showed that 60% of teenagers in the US were using it as their primary form of contraception, and even 30% of older, probably should know better, women. Maths isn’t my strong point, but over half of teenagers, using something that only works 3 out of 4 times…sounds like a lot of unplanned pregnancies to me. Whilst some news websites were writing stories along the lines of 'withdrawal method as effective as condoms', this again relates to the fact so many people are using condoms incorrectly, so their efficacy rates could be greatly improved with greater awareness of this.
So why are so few people using reliable contraceptives? A lot of people lately don’t want to use hormonal contraception due to fear of short- and long-term side effects, so condoms strike me as the obvious hormone-free, side effect choice. There is a lot of embarrassment surrounding their purchase, and there doesn’t really seem to be any consensus on whose role it is to buy them. Is it the man, or is it the woman? If you’re in a responsible adult relationship then contraception should be something that you should be able to discuss openly. It’s quite clear that it continue to be a taboo subject in society, and I know a lot of people blush when I ask this question at work for medical purposes.
Some very forward thinking people are doing a great job at taking the embarrassment out of buying condoms, and doing monthly subscriptions, so you can now get your condoms delivered alongside your organic veg box (oh too many aubergine emoji jokes…) Hanx is the new cult condom brand, run by a dynamic female duo who were fed up of buying condoms aimed at men so set about making a condom designed by women. The result; a sleek and discretely packaged 100% natural Fairtrade vegan latex condom that is now available from Coco De Mer, Wah and online at hanxofficial.com, including as a subscription. I didn’t even realise that normal latex contains animal products; casein, a protein derived from cows, is used in the production, so these vegan condoms are great if you want to steer away from animal products for ethical or sustainability reasons. Plus the natural latex doesn’t have that traditional condom smell that can also be quite off-putting. Sounds intriguing right? Give them a go using the discount code “GG20” for a 20% discount.
And being vegan doesn’t make them any less effective. We all know what happened in the film Bridget Jones’s Baby, but remember her vegan condom was expired, so don’t forget to check the expiry date.
Now I’m going to let you go and get on with your bank holiday weekend. Have (Safe) fun!
Please note, this is not a sponsored post and all views are my own.