Rather then sift through the broken pieces of fact intertwined with fiction in my head that I can remember from my days in sex ed class, I'll take most of the background information on condoms from the World Health Organization's document The Male Latex Condom
, Planned Parenthood's page Condoms
, Wikipedia's entry on Condoms
and from the links and references contained in those documents.
Definition and usage
A condom is a device designed to prevent the passage of fluids between individuals during sexual intercourse. It provides a barrier that physically blocks the transmission of semen during intercourse. Condoms are used to prevent pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. 1
Condoms have been used for over 500 years. In the early twentieth century, with the invention of disposable latex condoms, they became one of the most popular methods of contraception. 2
Condoms are now used during sexual intercourse and other sexual activities where and individual or more than one individuals require an effective protective barrier between themselves and something else.
Because condoms are waterproof, highly elastic, and very durable, they are also used in a variety of unconventional applications. See below for examples:Knit CondomCondom EcosphereNovel Use for a CondomCondom Light PartyDual Waterproof Consumer Electronics - the condomCreative Discontent: Part 2Condom materials
Most condoms are made from latex, but some are made from other materials such as lamb intestines (called lamb skin condoms) or polyurethane. Lamb skin condoms prevent the transmission of semen during sexual intercourse, but do not adequately protect against sexually transmitted diseases.Effectiveness
As a method of contraception, male condoms have the advantage of being inexpensive, easy to use, having few side-effects, and of offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases. With proper knowledge and application technique, and use at every act of intercourse, users of male condoms experience a 2% per-year pregnancy rate. 3, 4
The most frequently cited condom effectiveness rate is for typical use, which includes perfect and imperfect use (i.e. not used at every act of intercourse, or used incorrectly). The pregnancy rate during typical use can be much higher (10-14%) than for perfect use, but this is due primarily to inconsistent and incorrect use, not to condom failure. Condom failure, the device breaking or slipping off completely during intercourse is uncommon. 5Disease prevention
Laboratory studies have found that viruses (including HIV) do not pass through intact latex condoms even when devices are stretched or stressed.
In Thailand, the promotion by the government of 100% condom use by commercial sex workers led to a dramatic increase in the use of condoms (from 14% in 1990 to 94% in 1994); an equally dramatic decline in the nation-wide numbers of bacterial STD cases (from 410,406 cases in 1997 to 27,362 cases in 1994); and reduced HIV prevalence in Thai soldiers.
The most convincing data on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV infection has been generated by prospective studies undertaken on serodiscordant couples, when one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. These studies show that, with consistent condom use, the HIV infection rate among uninfected partners was less than 1 percent per year. Also, in situations where one partner is definitely infected, inconsistent condom use can be as risky as not using condoms at all. 6Allergy to latex condoms
Latex allergies are very rare among the general population. While 1-2 billion condoms are used per year in the USA, the FDA only received 44 reports of allergic reactions associated with condom use between October 1988 and end of 1991. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that the population risk of an allergic reaction to latex is 0.08% and the nature of the reaction tends to be very mild. Concerns about latex allergies should not inhibit sexually active people who are at risk of exposure to pregnancy and STDs using condoms, since the risks associated with unprotected sexual contact are far greater than those from exposure to latex.Sexual Education
(why this Instructable is important)
One argument used against condom education and condom distribution programs is that providing condoms and condom education will increase condom use among teens and those groups targeted with the education programs. Many feel that condom distribution and education is a "license to have sex" especially for teens. Studies are surveys about the subject prove otherwise.
- Five U.S. studies of specific sex education programs have demonstrated that HIV education and sex education that included condom information either had no effect upon the initiation of intercourse or resulted in delayed onset of intercourse.
- Five studies of specific programs found that HIV/sex education did not increase frequency of intercourse, and a program that included development of skills to negotiate safer sexual behaviors actually resulted in a decrease in the number of youth who initiated sex.
- A World Health Organization (WHO) review cited 19 studies of sex education programs that found no evidence that sex education leads to earlier or increased sexual activity in young people. In fact, five of the studies cited by WHO showed that such programs can lead to a delay or decrease in sexual activity.
- In a recent study of youth in Los Angeles, an HIV prevention program focusing on condom use did not increase sexual activity or the number of sex partners. But condom use did increase among those who were already sexually active.
The data is clear and plentiful. Condom education is effective in decreasing STDs and HIV and did not give teens "a license to have sex" as opponents claim.References
(Any information included in this step that is not cited below came from the the World Health Organization's document - The Male Latex Condom
. Planned Parenthood (April 2004). Retrieved on 11/19/2007.
 A History of Birth Control Methods
Planned Parenthood (June 2002). Retrieved on 7/5/2006.
 Hatcher, RA; Trussel J, Stewart F, et al (2000). Contraceptive Technology, 18th Edition, New York: Ardent Media. ISBN 0-9664902-6-6.
 Wikipedia entry on condoms
Retrieved on 2/26/2008.
 Effectiveness of male latex condoms in protecting against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
The World Health Organization. Retrieved on 2/26/2008.