Offering pregnancy testing, counseling, and sexual health information

Condoms & Safer Sex

Your Questions Answered

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
  1. How effective are condoms in preventing pregnancy?
  2. Do condoms protect against sexually transmitted disease?
  3. Are condoms a good way to keep from getting AIDS?
  4. Will spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 help prevent AIDS?
  5. Are latex condoms the best way to practice "safe sex"?
  6. How often do condoms break?
  7. I used a condom every time, and it never broke. Is pregnancy still possible?
     three condoms

How effective are condoms in preventing pregnancy?

For adults, the failure rate is 14% for each year of use. That means every year about 1 in 7 condom users has an unplanned pregnancy. For people under 18, condoms have a failure rate of 18% over one year. For unmarried minorities, the condom failure rate is 36% per year, and for unmarried Hispanics, the failure rate is as high as 45%. For teens living together, over 50% of condom users will experience an unplanned pregnancy over the course of a year. Spermicidal condoms have not been shown to be more effective than the non-spermicidal type.

Do condoms protect against sexually transmitted disease?

Latex (rubber) or polyurethane (plastic) condoms are useful in helping to prevent certain diseases, such as HIV and gonorrhea. However, they are less effective protecting against herpes, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. Condoms provide almost no protection against HPV, the cause of genital warts and cervical cancer. The reason for this is that the condom does not cover all the areas in the genitals that may have sores.

Are condoms a good way to keep from getting AIDS?

Condoms will reduce your chance of infection, compared to having sex without any form of protection. However, you can still get HIV even if you use a condom. This is because condoms can break or slip off. The best way to prevent AIDS is abstinence.

Will spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 (N-9) help prevent AIDS?

Spermicides containing N-9 were once thought to help prevent HIV infection, but newer studies show an increased risk because the chemical can irritate the vagina, facilitating infection. As a result, spermicides are no longer being recommended for HIV prevention. Fewer condoms manufacturers are including spermicide on the condom, and those who do are using less.

Are latex condoms the best way to practice "safe sex"?

All brands of condoms can break during use. Breakage can happen even if you do everything right, putting you or your partner at risk for sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy. The only safe sex is abstinence (not having sex) or mutual faithfulness to an uninfected partner (i.e. marriage).

How often do condoms break?

2-6% of condoms break or fall off during sexual intercourse. Polyurethane condoms are more likely to break than latex condoms.

I used a condom every time, and it never broke. Is pregnancy still possible?

Yes. If you think you might be pregnant, visit our center for a free pregnancy test.

Source: Contraceptive Information Resource, www.contracept.org, FAQs about Condoms.

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After hours: (800) 712-4357
www.PhiladelphiaPregnancy.org

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