Most people are aware of the benefits of condoms as a method of birth control, but they don’t always realise the importance of wearing condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections. Although other methods of contraception such as injections, the pill and other intrauterine methods may prevent pregnancy, it is only barrier methods such as the use of condoms that can protect against sexual infections such as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
A barrier method of contraception means that the latex or polyurethane condom prevents the physical movement of sperm into the vagina during sexual intercourse. The HIV virus can be found in the sexual fluids of an infected person, who may not always know that they are infected. Having sex without using a condom means that the HIV virus can pass into a person’s bloodstream through tiny, unnoticeable genital cuts or sores, as any contact with blood increases the risk of HIV transmission. However, if a condom is worn then no sexual fluid comes into contact with any part of the genitals, dramatically reducing the risk of HIV transmission and STIs.
HIV is a virus which infects the cells of a living organism in order to reproduce itself. It causes AIDS by damaging the immune system cells to the extent that they cannot fight off any other infections; something as small as a common cold could prove life-threatening to a person with AIDS.
Having sex without wearing a condom is simply not worth the risk to yourself or to your partner. So, to avoid STIs and HIV, wear a condom consistently and correctly.
Using a Condom
If you’ve just purchased a condom for the first time from the local chemist or online from a reputable stockist then here’s the straightforward guide to using it.
Get the condom out of the packet only when you’re ready to use it when the penis is hard. Don’t use your teeth as you may tear the condom. Packets usually open very easily.
Unroll the condom carefully at first to make sure it’s the right way round. Pinch the end so that air doesn’t get trapped and place over the tip of the penis. Roll the condom down to the base of the penis. If you’re using a latex condom, you can now spread a water-based lubricant over the outside of the condom. Do not use an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom as this will weaken it and could lead to tearing.
If you can, check that the condom isn’t slipping during sex and when you have finished withdraw carefully, holding the base of the condom in place.
Do not flush the used condom down the toilet as it may cause a blockage. Wrap it in tissue paper and place it in a bin.
A final word of caution, don’t be tempted to use two condoms together for extra protection as the friction between them will weaken both.