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Condoms are the Oatmeal of Contraception

Posted by Ryan Morgan on April 03, 2013 at 12:00 PM

It’s that time of the year again: gym-goers flock en masse to get that last workout in before a beach weekend, neon bathing suits assault your eyes as soon as you walk through Target’s doors, and the Horseshoe blooms with Frisbee-toting seniors who are counting down the days until graduation.

OatmealI readily admit to being one of “those” people: I’m eating better (except for the occasional Cook Out milkshake), I’m working out more (except for the occasional night on the couch to watch West Wing) and I’m trying to get myself all clean and organized to get in that “spring” frame of mind. My fabulous trainer, Kristin, has not only helped me learn a proper squat form and how to work a kettlebell, but she’s also instilled a new love for oats…and that’s how I got inspired to write this blog.

Condoms are like oatmeal. Condoms are the oatmeal of contraception. (Hear me out on this—I promise it makes sense.)

Everyone KNOWS about oatmeal. Odds are, you and most of the people you condom_620x350know, have consumed oatmeal at some point in your life. Nobody doubts the health benefits of oatmeal—oatmeal is good for you! But have you ever met anyone that really, truly loves oatmeal? That prefers it to ALL other wonderful breakfast foods?

RIGHT. And that’s the problem. Condoms are like oatmeal in the contraceptive world—widespread, good for you, and timeless, but nobody’s particularly “excited” about them. Surrounded by shiny metal IUDs and a rainbow of BC pills, poor condoms aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Even the Gates Foundation has noticed the general lack of interest in/loyalty to these fallen prophylactic princes, so they’re trying to “jazz it up”- (This is the equivalent of the “Dinosaur Egg” oatmeal, if you’re still following my silly analogy).

Here’s what we need to remember, though, folks—condoms are all kinds of awesome. Research continues to show that condoms are a great method for preventing unwanted pregnancy, and are one of the only methods for sexually active individuals to protect themselves against STDs, including HIV. In South Carolina, where we have the third highest rate of reported Gonorrhea cases and the fourth highest rate of Chlamydia cases in the country, protecting yourself is absolutely key. AND despite claims to the contrary, a 2005 study showed that sexually active women who used condoms consistently were significantly less likely to contract HPV than were women who had not used condoms. Good news all around!

Like anything else, however, condoms are only effective when they’re used correctly. Those stats you’ve seen about 15 out of 100 sexually active women becoming pregnant while using condoms? ABSOLUTELY TRUE…for a year of typical condom use. “Typical use” condom efficacy rates include the possibility of human error (we’ll get to that in a second) and complete omission (“Well, I used one last month, but the next two times, I kind of forgot”). During a year of perfect condom use, that number drops to just 2 or 3 out of 100—much better odds.

Here’s some advice for how to use a condom perfectly:

  • -Keep your condoms out of the sun, your wallet, and your glove compartment—changes in temperature can cause the latex to break down.
  • -Don’t use expired condoms. Ever.
  • -Be CAREFUL when you’re opening the package: don’t use your teeth or fingernails.
  • -Put the condom on BEFORE it touches any part of your partner’s body.
  • -“Pinch and roll”: Pinch the reservoir tip, and unroll the condom all the way down the shaft of the penis. Make sure you leave sufficient space at the head of the penis for the semen to collect. Put it on the wrong way? DON’T FLIP THAT THING OVER…throw it out. Start again.
  • -Only use water-based lubricants—oil-based lubricants can cause the condom to deteriorate.
  • -Withdraw the penis immediately after ejaculation.
  • -Don’t reuse condoms…for any reason. Seriously.
  • -You can’t use a male condom and a female condom at the same time

The good news is that condoms are tested rigorously—water leak tests, air burst tests, tensile property tests. Intact condoms (those that pass the water leak test) are virtually impermeable to particles the size of STD pathogens.

Give condoms—and oatmeal—another chance. You may find out that you love them both—cheap, easy to get, good for your health, and available in tons of good flavors!

 


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