The American Social Health Association (ASHA) wants you to be safe as Cupid’s arrows take flight, so each year we recognize February as National Condom Month.
In the U.S. there are approximately 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STI) annually,about half of which occur among youth ages 15-24. STIs often lack noticeable symptoms and can be contracted from partners who don’t have a clue they have an infection. Untreated STIs can cause a host of medical complications, including infertility. Research overwhelmingly shows the value of condoms in reducing transmission risks with a host of STIs, including HIV and chlamydia. Also, condom use is linked with lower rates of HPV infection and cervical cancer among women.
During National Condom Month, check out some of ASHA's web-based resources.
While using a condom may seem simple, it is important that you have the facts needed to ensure you are using a condom consistently and correctly. This fun, informative how-to video is another example to show you exactly how to "get it on" before you get it on.
Condoms undergo rigorous quality control testing at each step of the manufacturing process to ensure that they are intact, strong, stable, and have no holes. We are pleased to give you this exclusive inside look at what goes into the creation and testing of each and every condom.
The female condom is a nitrile pouch that fits inside a woman's vagina. It has a soft ring on each end. The outer ring stays on the outside of the vagina and partly covers the labia (lips). The inner ring fits on the inside of the vagina, somewhat like a diaphragm, to hold the condom in place.
The female condom should be inserted before the penis touches the vagina. It can be inserted anywhere from immediately before to up to 8 hours prior to intercourse--allowing time to plan ahead. Another advanatge of the female condom--it stays in place whether or not a male partner maintains an erection.
To start, add lubricant to the outside of the condom. To insert the condom, squeeze the inner ring of the condom and put the inner ring and pouch inside the vagina.
With your finger, push the inner ring as far into the vagina as it will go. The outer ring stays outside the vagina. Guide the penis into the condom, taking care that the penis is inserted into the condom and doesn't push the condom aside.
After intercourse, the condom should be removed before standing up. Pull out the condom gently, making sure not to spill the content.
Sometimes people don't like to use protection for sex, so it can be helpful to think about how you might respond if you're ever with a partner who doesn't want to use a condom. Remember, you have a right to protect yourself and your health, and using condoms is a way to take care of your partner too – so you're not being selfish at all.
A partner might have specific reasons for not wanting to use condoms. Look over this list to get ideas about how to respond if you ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom:
“I don't have any kind of disease! Don't you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you, but anyone can have an STI and not even know it. This is just a way to take care of both of us.”
“I don't like sex as much with a rubber. It doesn't feel the same.”
“This is the only way I feel comfortable having sex but believe me, it'll still be good even with protection! And it lets us both just focus on each other instead of worrying about all that other stuff…”
“I'm [or you're] on the pill.”
“But that doesn't protect us from STIs, so I still want to be safe, for both of us.”
“I didn't bring any condoms.”
“I have some, right here.”
“I don't know how to use them.”
“I can show you – want me to put it on for you?”
“Let's just do it without a condom this time.”
“It only takes one time to get pregnant or to get an STI. I just can't have sex unless I know I'm as safe as I can be.”
“No one else makes me use a condom!”
“This is for both of us…and I won't have sex without protection. Let me show you how good it can be – even with a condom.”