How Effective Are Condoms Against STD's?

Although condoms may help to reduce the risk of contracting STD’s in general, the fact is that they cannot protect you from specific types of infections.  For example, in the case of genital ulcer diseases (such as herpes and syphilis) and HPV (human papillomavirus), “latex condoms can only protect against transmission when the ulcers or infections are in genital areas that are covered or protected by the condom.”Contagions are often present in the area surrounding the condom, even when visible signs of infection are not present.  In these cases, condoms are useless against the transmission of the disease.

It should also be noted that non-latex condoms do not protect against STD’s at all.  Trojan labeling states that, “natural membrane condoms only help to protect against pregnancy and are not recommended for the prevention of STDs.”  For those who are thinking about using polyurethane condoms, studies are still “being done to determine the risks of pregnancy and STDs, including HIV infection (AIDS)”.2

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, many of the available studies intended to prove the efficacy of any kind of condom are simply “not designed or conducted in ways that allow for accurate measurement of condom effectiveness”.3  Simply put, the accuracy of what has been published cannot be measured against your individual circumstances and personal risk.

Total abstinence is the only 100% guaranteed method of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel. http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm
  2. Trojan Condoms Brand Condoms. (2011). Trojan FAQ’s; A Quick Course in Condoms. http://www.trojancondoms.com/Resources/Faqs.aspx#12
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services. Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel: Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/condoms.pdf
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