A condom is a functional barrier usually made out of latex to stop the exchange of vaginal fluids, blood, and semen from one person to another during sexual intercourse. There are male and female condoms, and the correct use of either of the two can extremely reduce the probability of pregnancy and also the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Condoms have been in use since the 1560s or thereabouts. In 1855, rubber condoms became readily available with the re-invention of latex following much later in the 1920s. Condom, among others, currently ranks top on the World Health Organization’s ‘List of Essential Medicines’ and has become one of the most common birth control methods around the world.
The male condom is rolled as a sheath over an erect penis prior to sexual intercourse to prevent the transmission and acquisition of STDs. The condom shields the fluids that can harbor HIV and other STDs released by the penis from getting into the sexual partner while also acting as a barrier against acquisition from the partner’s vaginal or anal fluids. Unlike the conventional male condoms made from latex, the reusable female condoms are made out of polyurethane.
The female condoms provide protection against transmission and acquisition of STDs. It also offers women the luxury of having a female-based pregnancy control and STDs preventive method – giving them the power to be in charge. Although they are more expensive relative to the male condoms, they are readily available globally in varying types such as:
- Reddy condom
- Cupid female condom
- FC2 female condom
- Woman’s Condom
How to effectively use a Condom
- Be certain that the condom is safe for use by looking out for the expiration date.
- Be careful to always use a new condom for every sexual act.
- If you have to make use of lubricant, be sure to use exogenous water-based lubricants only.
- As soon as the penis is erect, always ensure to put on the condom before contact with the mouth, anus, or vagina.
- Be sure to pinch the tip of the condom well enough as you roll it over the penis to create room for semen collection.
- If condom breaks during sexual intercourse, withdraw immediately and replace with a new one.
- After ejaculation, withdraw penis carefully and gently unroll the condom before the penis softens.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Also referred to as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), are infections that are commonly transmitted from one person to another during sexual intercourse which include oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse. They are caused by viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and parasites. Some of the most common types of STDs are:
- Pelvic Inflammation Disease (PID)
- Genital herpes
- Genital warts
Modes of Transmission
With sex leading the pack of all known modes of the transmission, STDs can be contracted through other means such as:
- Blood transfusion
- Donor tissue
Although STDs affects men and women, the health implication in women is usually more severe. In some cases, this has resulted in many women having problems getting pregnant. Another prevalent case of severity in women is the great risk of infection and other health challenges an infected pregnant woman pose to her child during and after childbirth.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Generally, effective diagnosis requires a physical examination, a thorough medical history, as well as a blood screening to confirm the diagnosis. In the developed world, STD diagnostic tests are available and easily accessible. And unlike the developing world, there are ‘over the counter’ test kits available for individual STD tests.
While STDs resulting from parasites, yeasts, and bacteria can be treated with conventional antibiotics, the cure for those resulting from viral infections is yet to be found. But there are several palliative care products that can help in the control the symptoms because most STDs do not come with notable symptoms. The implication is that the stealthy nature of the disease makes the infected persons unaware resulting in risk of infecting others.
Some of the notable symptoms of the non-stealthy STDs include:
- Pelvic pain
- Ulcers around genitals
- Penile discharge
- Vaginal discharge
- Burning sensation urination
- Painful intercourse
Effects of STDs
Infections can sometimes lead to the following:
- In severe cases, it may result in death or critical health challenges to babies of infected mothers.
- Damage to several vital organs of the body such as the brain, kidneys, and the heart just to mention a few.
- Cervical cancer in women.
- Inability to conceive children.
- Ectopic pregnancies posing a great risk to mother and the unborn.
The most effective preventive measure is abstinence from sex. Some others include:
- Limiting sex to one partner – mutual monogamous sexual relationship
- Pre-exposure vaccination against Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- The effective use of condoms.
- Male circumcision
- Antiretroviral treatment for individuals with the viral infection to prevent the risk of infecting partners.
Condoms, as highlighted earlier, are cheap, accessible, and goes a long way to prevent STDs – use them as much as you still engage in casual sex.