Condoms are one of the most common forms of birth control and STD (sexually transmitted disease) prevention. But, despite their popularity, there are often misconceptions about this barrier birth control method. Read on to learn more about condoms!
Myth 1. Sex is not pleasurable with a condom.
When using a condom, many people feel pleasure during their experience and can even forget that they are wearing one! When two (or more) people are on the same page about having safe sex, they can focus on the fun and pleasure of their sexual experience without having to worry about unwanted consequences of unprotected sex, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy.
Myth 2. You have to use two condoms because one isn’t enough protection.
According to Dr. Gelow of Banner Health, “Using one condom correctly is the best way to reduce your risk of STIs and pregnancy. Using two condoms can increase the risk of breakage due to increased rubbing and improper fit.”
Myth 3. Condoms are only for people with penises.
Not at all! There are protective condoms for both people with penises and vaginas. These contraceptives can be used for oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Condoms for vaginas are referred to as "external condoms." External condoms can be inserted in the vagina or rectum and can be up to 95% effective.
Myth 4. You shouldn’t use condoms because they break and are not reliable.
According to National Health Service UK, when "male" condoms are used correctly, they can be up to 98% effective. This means that the odds are 2 out of 100 people will become pregnant within one year after using a male condom.
Myth 5. Condoms are uncomfortable to wear.
Condoms can be very comfortable when they are new and used correctly. There are a few reasons why a condom could hurt or feel uncomfortable. Perhaps your condom is too small, or not enough lube is being used. Be sure to try different sizes to find your best fit, and take note of how much or little lube you are using. It also wouldn’t hurt to look over the ingredients. Some condoms are made with materials like latex, which some people are allergic to. You don’t want to have an allergic reaction and not know where it came from!
Myth 6. Condoms are only made in one size.
No way! Condoms come in a variety of sizes and textures. From big to small bottom bits, there is a condom size that is just right for you. “You must properly size a condom,” Dr. Gelow notes. “Too small, and you risk breakage and an uncomfortable experience. Too large, and you risk slippage and lack of protection as well as the potential for breakage.” If you’re not sure what size is best for you, we recommend starting with a variety pack before committing to the (potentially) wrong size. You can also take the find your fit quiz from My One Condom.
Myth 7. I can’t use a condom, because I’m allergic to latex.
Latex-free condoms are available, so you can have safe and protected sex too even with a latex allergy. “There are many condoms that are made from polyurethane or polyisoprene (SKYN brand, for example) that offer the same pregnancy and STI prevention efficacy as latex," Dr. Gelow said. “These condoms are often thinner and looser and offer a more comfortable experience for those who feel a condom.”
Do be aware that some natural condoms, such as those made with lambskin, do not offer HIV or STI prevention, since they can contain pores. Be sure to research the brands of condoms you are buying!
Myth 8. Vaseline is a good lube alternative when using a condom.
Only use safe, non-oil-based products, such as water-based lubricants. Lubricants that contain ingredients such as oils, fats, or greases (hand lotions, baby oil, cooking oil, Vaseline), etc. can damage the latex of the condom, leading to tearing and breakage. “It's true lubricated condoms are more effective than unlubricated condoms, as these can cause breakage, but make sure the lubricant is condom safe,” Dr. Gelow said. “Petroleum-based products, like Vaseline, cause condoms to break.”
Myth 9. Condoms are the best form of contraceptive, so I don’t need anything else.
The best and most effective way to use a condom is in tandem with another form of contraceptive. Other forms include birth control pills, IUDs, or quarterly treatments like the Depo shot. Using two different forms of contraceptives, or birth control, is the best course of action as they offer different benefits. For example, something like the pill can protect against pregnancy, while using a condom will protect against STIs.
Myth 10. Condoms are expensive.
According to Planned Parenthood, condoms are one of the most accessible and inexpensive forms of birth control & STD protection available. The cost of condoms can be as low as $0.04 per unit. Apicha CHC also offers free condoms at both our clinic locations and at our events!
How Apicha Can Help You
Birth control and STI/HIV prevention are important parts of your overall health, but they can be big decisions. Each person's prevention methods can be very different. Apicha CHC is here to help you navigate your options. A few of the services we provide include:
- Free condoms and lube at our clinics & events.
- Pregnancy Testing
- Plan B (Morning After Pill)
- Oral Contraception - Birth Control Pill
- Reversible Birth Control (Nexplanon, Nuva Ring, Depo, The Patch)
- Family Planning
- Pre-Conception Counseling
- Prenatal Care by Referral
- Regular check-ups for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure
- Pap Smear/Pelvic Exam
- STD Screenings
- HIV Prevention (PrEP/PEP)
- HPV Vaccine
- Mammogram Referrals
If you have any additional questions about birth control methods or STD prevention, request an appointment with Apicha Community Health Center. Our competent, caring, and non-judgemental providers will help you make sure you're getting the best birth control method for you. We also offer many other health services, which you can learn more about here.