Don’t be fooled: Not all condoms created equally
Submitted by: Marc C. Gittelman, M.D.
Submitted on: May 10, 2005
Q: One of my friends says that when it comes to protection, a condom is a condom is a condom. Is that true, or do some brands offer better protection?
A: Raincoats come in all sizes, designs, flavors, textures and options for lubrication or spermicidal agents. There are more choices than “wannabe” NFL players on draft day.
Prophylactics serve two purposes. They protect against pregnancy and decrease the risk of getting a nasty sexually transmitted disease. Here’s the scorecard. There is definitely a difference in the quality of condoms, their likelihood to prevent pregnancy and the possibility of breakage.
Latex condoms are slightly more reliable than polyurethane condoms. Always choose a well-known name brand if possible. In the United States, condoms should be FDA approved. Be careful with “no-name” special flavor of the week or edible, boutique type of items. Thinner condoms are designed to increase sensitivity, but they may be more fragile and susceptible to breakage. They generally come with added spermicidal agents in case of an accidental rear or rip.
Be aware that the use of oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly break down the latex condoms and therefore place you at risk for invisible breaks that can increase your risk for pregnancy and STDs. Use only water-based lubricants like K-Y jelly or Astroglide.
In the heat of the moment, it’s important to remember a few obvious basics. Condoms work better when they are actually worn, not when they’re in your wallet or back pocket. They won’t protect other parts of your body from infection that are exposed to sexual secretions i.e. oral sex.
The stakes are high with regards to protecting yourself from an environment that could potentially harbor infectious disease like Chlamydia, HPV, syphilis, herpes, genital warts and HIV. So, whether you are a woman or man, keep your head on straight in the heat of the moment and always remember the motto, “no glove, no love.”