Condom use and safety

Acondom is a condom is a condom, right?

Wrong.

According to new data released by Consumer Reports, two condoms distributed free of charge at Planned Parenthood centers nationwide failed basic durability tests.

“Honeydew” flavored condoms and the “assorted colors” line distributed by the group both had a high rate of failure versus drugstore brands Durex, Lifestyles and Trojan, all of which made the top five with their ultra-thin lines.

Planned Parenthood’s “lollipop” line, distributed with the package glued to a popsicle stick, was the only condom that passed the Consumer Reports test with average marks.

Not surprisingly, designer condoms Beyond Seven and Kimono, which tout their thinner-than-thou status, also had a higher level of breakage.

This news is of particular concern for a generation raised on the idea that condoms would protect them from everything, including HIV and bad decisions.

Latex condoms, when used correctly, are highly effective in preventing HIV, pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

For those with latex allergies, polyurethane condoms have proven highly effective in controlling the potential for pregnancy and STD infection, according to Advocates for Youth, an educational Web site for young adults.

With perfect use, five percent of those using a male condom and three percent using a female condom will experience pregnancy within a year, but with typical use those numbers jump to 14 and 21 percent respectively, according to AFY.

By comparison, those without a contraceptive plan will experience pregnancy at rates of 85 percent within the year.

“Safe sex” depends on a wide variety of factors, but there are options available now when things go wrong. Plan B, abortion, adoption and infant surrender are all options in California, but don’t plan on using them for birth control. Emergencies are one thing, but to avoid getting to the stage where you’ll need a second plan at all, take a few protective measures before suiting up next time:

Check the box. You should never use a condom that has passed its expiration date. Never use a condom twice.

n Open the condom’s wrapper with your fingers, never with your teeth or another sharp object which could damage the latex.

Leave a little room. Far from looking unmanly, it looks smart. Leaving spill room decreases the chances of accidental breakage.

Have adequate lubrication. Latex can only stand up to so much friction, so make sure to have a water-based lubricant available. Petroleum-based lubes will actually eat away at the latex, making the condom more vulnerable to breakage.

Double up on anything except condoms. Combining two types of contraceptive, such a spermicidal and a condom or birth control pills and a condom, is a smart move. Using two condoms at once isn’t so bright. The added friction is likely to cause both to break.

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