The Truth About Condoms

Many people think talking about condoms encourages people to have sex. As if condoms are the magic ticket to preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or unwanted pregnancy. Tragically, this is a lie. There are plenty of "condom babies," children who were conceived while their parents were attempting to play it "safe with a condom. Not to mention thousands of cases of STDs that have been spread, even with condom use.

As you no doubt have heard, there is no such thing as "safe sex." Only safer sex. The only sure proof way to be safe is to keep it in within a committed marriage relationship. Every other kind of sex, is risky at best, and potentially life-threatening.

I've got a powerful comment from Riah, whose logic cannot be ignored: My secret to avoiding STDs is staying away from sex all together. That's the best way to avoid anything, and it's not really a secret, its common sense, really. A lot of guys would probably be like one time can't hurt anything but that's all it takes is once for ANYthing to happen. I'm really committed to my decision to not have sex until marriage. I don't think you can trust anybody or anything with your health. You have to be extra EXTRA careful nowadays because if you make a wrong decision, your life can be changed in a split second. If you have future plans and goals, you won't want to mess things up by getting pregnant too early. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you don't put yourself in that situation then you really don't have anything to worry about. The secret is staying away from sex all together. It may not be easy or popular but it's the safest way out and you won't regret it in the long run.

Riah is right.

But it's amazing to me how many people take risks with STDs and unwanted pregnancies every day. As I mentioned in my first blog, there are 67 million people in America with STDs and 12 million more people are added to that number every year. Every one of them rolled the dice and lost. The Center for Disease Control found that among sexually active students in grades nine through 12 nationwide, only about 58 percent report that either they or their partner had used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

But I'm a realist. I know you still very well might take a chance with safer sex or condoms. I sure don't want you getting hurt. It's not worth it. James' comment says it all: I have HSV2 (genital herpes) and I don't know that I would say I made a bad choice' or had it could never happen to me' kind of attitude. I only slept with guys I trusted and with guys I was in serious relationships with. Along the way I slept with someone who said he didn't know he had it. Whether he did or didn't, it has changed my life and I moved on. It was a long hard road, but I have come out stronger and left him far back in the dust!

Sadly, the fact is people are going to continue having unsafe sex and end up paying the consequences. This is why it is so vitally important to know the truth about condoms. So here goes, not to give permission to have the misuse of sex, but so anyone using condoms is more informed about what you are getting into.


  • When used properly, latex condoms can help (though not completely) protect you and your partner from unplanned pregnancy, reduce the risk of HIV infection (which causes AIDS) and many, but not all, STDs.
  • Condoms are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly.
  • The first-year effectiveness rate in preventing pregnancy among typical condom users on average is 86 percent. This includes pregnancies resulting from errors in condom use.
  • In any sort of nonexclusive sexual relationship--or in any relationship in which one partner's HIV status is unknown - you should automatically be using a condom, even if your partner is on the pill or using another form of contraception.
  • Condom breakage or slippage can occur (somewhere around 2 percent of the time), but studies indicate this rarely happens when condoms are properly used. Fit is important. If it's too tight, a condom is more likely to break. If it's too loose, it may slip off.
  • If you use a condom with a sperm-killing (spermicidal) cream or jelly, the risk of pregnancy is further decreased.
  • It's important to use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. You can also get STDs (including HIV) from anal and oral sex, too. Using a latex condom to prevent transmission of HIV is more than 10,000 times safer than not using a condom.
  • There is no definitive study about condom effectiveness for all STDs. But several studies have demonstrated that condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can protect against the transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, and may protect against genital herpes and syphilis.
  • Stay away from alcohol and other drugs, as they may make you take risks, like having sex without a condom.
  • To learn how to use condoms, read the directions on the package and practice before you have sex.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that the term condom failure often imprecisely refers to the percentage of women who become pregnant over the course of a year in which they reported using condoms as their primary method of birth control - even if they did not use condoms every time, they had intercourse. The CDC concluded, clearly these statistics don't report condom failure but user failure.
  • The book "Contraceptive Technology" explained, only three of 100 couples that use condoms perfectly for one year will experience an unintended pregnancy.

Everyone who is sexually active faces some risk of HIV. Good self-esteem means caring about your risk. And you are worth the effort. Everyone deserves to be safe. And safer sex may be easier than you think. Worrying about your partner's reaction is normal. But not being safe because you are afraid of rejection is just too risky. It's better to face rejection than to become infected with HIV.

With all this being said, this is not an invitation to begin having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I'd highly encourage you to wait until you are married to start exploring this side of your life. I've never talked to anybody who waited until they got married to have sex that has ever regretted that decision. But I have talked to hundreds of people who cannot bury the regret and pain that has been brought on by rolling the dice and taking a chance with condoms.

There is one area where a condom fails every time. It will not protect your heart. 

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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