The AIDS Healthcare Foundation promotes the use of condoms to practice safer sex and prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

DURBAN - Today is World Contraception Day and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is promoting the use of condoms to prevent unplanned pregnancies, and the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. It is also promoting the correct use of condoms.

The foundation said using condoms was a safe and effective way of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and was also an integral part of maintaining good sexual health. 

According to its regional Policy and Advocacy Manager, Larissa Klazinga, there are many effective forms of contraception: “In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancy, condoms for men and women are over 90% effective and they don’t have any side effects.”

For nearly 25 years, the foundation has promoted condom use with numerous campaigns that highlight one clear message - If you’re having sex, you need to use a condom, consistently - every time. 

Five things not to do with condoms

  1. Make sure they're not too big: Extra-large condoms can be a big ego boost, but there are three big problems with using condoms that are too big. Ever worn a pair of shoes that’s just a shade too big and suffered the consequences later? Then you already know one of them – friction. Condoms can break when there’s too much friction. Too-big condoms can also leak. 
  2. Store them in your wallet: Home to money, ID and other useful stuff that most people don’t leave home without it seems like a brilliant place to stow an emergency condom. But walking around with a wallet full of condoms isn’t smart. Especially if they’re in a back pocket, wallets are also home to friction, heat and pressure. All three make latex weaker, so wallet-stored condoms are some of the least reliable. Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  3. Check the expiry date: That sad, lonely condom may be long past its prime. Condoms have expiration dates for a reason – old latex becomes brittle, even if it’s been stored somewhere with much better climate control than a back pocket. Check the date on the package. If it’s in the past, pitch it. Also look at the condom itself. If it’s dried out, sticky or brittle, throw it away.
  4. Do not open with your teeth: Latex is a good barrier against STDs, but not against teeth. Even if it’s not visibly punctured, a bitten condom may still be damaged enough to break. Scissors, knives, long fingernails and basically anything else that’s sharper than fingertips are also on the “Do Not Use” list.
  5. Do not use oil based lubricants: Lots of condoms are pre-lubricated but many people want them slipperier. But most of the slick substances around the house – like petroleum jelly or vegetable oil – don’t mix with condoms. Only water-soluble lubricants team up well with latex. Lubricants made with oil or petroleum products will weaken latex condoms, making them likelier to break.

Five common mistakes wearing a condom:

  1. Inside out: It will unroll only with extreme (and possibly damaging) difficulty, and stuff that should stay on the inside will be on the outside.
  2. Too tight: The end of the condom needs some space for semen to go. Up to 45% of people mess this up.
  3. Too airy: Friction against air bubbles makes condoms more likely to break. About 40% of people don’t squeeze out the air.
  4. Partial unroll: A condom that isn’t unrolled all the way can come off during sex – and it can’t do a great job of preventing contact between people’s parts while it’s on.
  5. Leaving it on too long afterwards: Waiting too long to take a condom off has its own set of problems. An erection can begin to fade immediately after ejaculation, meaning a condom that was snug at the start can go baggy right after the finish. The softer the penis gets, the more likely it is for semen to leak out of the condom.

For more information on the importance of condoms and how to use them correctly, visit www.useacondom.com

The Independent on Saturday