Just how safe & effective are condoms?  

mi_mwpm 51M
1175 posts
7/3/2005 8:05 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Just how safe & effective are condoms?

This past Thursday's Detroit Free Press had an article headlined "Condoms: Are they really all that safe?" on the front page, upper right corner - you know, the place the really important shit is supposed to be. Now, for a married guy on a sex site that's had encounters with a few different women, this is a headline that grabs your attention.

Turns out the article was ultimately about a push from abstinence groups and a conservative congressman who are trying to get the package labeling changed. Currently, the FDA requires labeling to include: "If used properly, latex condoms will help to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV infection (AIDS) and many other sexually transmitted diseases." Most brands I've seen also state that they are effective in reducing pregnancy.

It's also interesting to note that all the highly-regarded polyurethane condoms seem to carry labels stating their effectiveness in preventing disease and pregnancy is still to be determined and that lambskin condoms are only effective for preventing pregnancy. That's definitely something to think about next time you're out shopping for "raincoats."

The article did contain some interesting statistics: Latex condoms, used every time over the course of a year, and put on before any skin-to-skin contact...

...reduce the risk of pregnancy from 85% to 3%, a reduction of nearly 97%.

...reduce the risk of HIV infection by about 80%, to less than a 1% chance of infection per year (from approximately 5%, if I've done my math correctly).

...slip off or break 1-2% of the time (I presume this assumes not choosing the XL Magnum when you have a teeny-weeny ).

...may have little or no affect on diseases that can be passed from skin to skin contact, ie. Herpes and HPV (human papilloma virus).

Individual studies referenced in a 2001 National Institutes of Health report show prevention rates range from 18% to 92%, depending on the disease.

The main questions raised in my mind: What composes a year of use? Is it once a week, once a day, or something in between? Is the rate of reduction in HIV transmission the same for males and females? Does the initial 5% unprotected HIV transmission rate assume every partner over the year is infected or only a subset?

While the article didn't really provide a lot of information, it's led me to start doing some research on my own. If you have information others here would find useful, please share.


mi_mwpm 51M

7/3/2005 8:09 pm

Found these statistics in a sidebar that I'd missed originally.

According to the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health, condom use reduces the risk of infection for:

•Genital herpes, by 30-92% in women; less in men (no number given).

•Gonorrhea, by 49-75% in men, and by 39-62% in women.

•Chlamydia, by 26-90% in women and by 33% in men.

•Pelvic inflammatory disease, by 55%.

•Trichomoniasis, by 30% in women, with significant reduction in men (no number given).

•Genital ulcers (chancroid), by 18-23%.

•Syphilis, by 40-60%.


Philosophy_N_Sex 49M/47F

7/3/2005 9:20 pm

You knwo yo uare right thsoe are the same stas they throw at us in health classes in college for those of us who are out to teach health. But I never saw what a year of use is, and never thought to ask. Sharp cookie you are!


LeEnchantress 55F

7/3/2005 10:08 pm

Well.. you don't have to have a teeny tiny penis and be using XL condoms to have them break.. The last time i was with my lover..who's nicely endowed but certainly not porn star size.. the darn condom broke... Okay.. so we had sex for about an hour.. but still... that's not something i want to think about.. changing a rubber when i'm in the midst of passion..
Again.. women have a high risk of contracting lots of the VD's just b/c our entire genital region just about.. except for the outside bits, is an orifice... guys just have a small opening at tip of their penis...
In the case of the HPV's.. wow.. those are a nightmare in themselves.. because for one... you often don't even have to have an outbreak to spread the disease.. . I believe it is the same way for herpes.. there is even a commercial out now that states just that... And herpes and HPVs are sooo prevalent. it's downright frightening...I know there's a test to detect HPV's in women. is there one for men? not to my knowledge, correct me if that's wrong.. but it can lead to cervical cancer, cancer of the anus.. even the penis in small cases...nasty stuff that HPV's... wow.
Anyway.. i went and got tested for everything.. when i found out these facts. I sure don't want to run around spreading any diseases to an some innocent guy.. I know i don't want these things spread to me.. So now i'm clean.. and all i have to do to be safe is fine someone who's also been tested and comes out positive.
There's no known treatment for the HPV either.. except getting them burned off....
I have read at least a few studies that said many doctors would NOT recommend their patient depend on condoms if he knew that his partner was HIV infected.. which to me means.. that condoms aren't THAT effective at stopping the spread of that disease...
Your best bet is to know your partner.. insist that they take tests to determine if they are carrying any STD.. and then have sex with them ONLY after you find out they are negative using with a condom...
It's just being responsible adult imho


Barbiebunny69 43F

7/3/2005 11:04 pm

Please if ure doing the friendfinder-fun thing--I do this and recommend to my fellow prevs and prevettes because i do care.. Please get yourself tested every 3 months if ure active. Not everyone is going to be honest with you, and even may lie. But to ptotect yourself and limit potential exposure to partners to ANYTHING 3 mo-6mo is a good cut off point. But I really recommend the three. Peace of mind and proof if its all there is...

Sure its nerve racking the first few times youre tested.. but after a while its like going to the stylist for a haircut. Sexual maintenence.

ANd insist in a condom. its pretty much the best we got for now. If he wont use one, U dont want to be with him either.


GleesFlakyShawl 50M
1620 posts
7/4/2005 7:44 am

whats a lambskin condom?


AmberSolaire 42M

7/4/2005 3:51 pm

I know pig gut ones were called Geranimo dz.Does that help?


mi_mwpm 51M

7/4/2005 9:32 pm

DZ... Lambskins are membrane condoms... not sure, but I think they're intestines, not skin. Trojan's version are called "Naturalamb Lambskin Condoms."


mi_mwpm 51M

7/4/2005 9:35 pm

Bunny... obviously going to your normal doctor every 3 months isn't something everyone would want to do... especially a married guy. Do you use a clinic or what? Do you pay out of pocket or is your insurance (assuming you have it) covering it? The private testing locations I've found this weekend want $400+.


keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
7/5/2005 2:48 am

Jeeze, I suppose not getting any has been keeping me safe. It is unfortunate that STD's have to be part of the equation.


GleesFlakyShawl 50M
1620 posts
7/5/2005 5:51 am

ty, mi_mwpm, are those condoms for sheep-obsessed guys?


spearfishhottie 51M/47F
98 posts
7/5/2005 5:51 pm

This issue is always a concern for me. I know they don't always get used exactly right either and that could be a problem. I always use them and have been lucky.


Barbiebunny69 43F

7/5/2005 6:30 pm

Mi.. got good insurance..but low cost clinics such as planned parenthood and local health dept offer low cost screenings as well.


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