Sex, Condoms, & STDs

To provide any reasonable hope of avoiding most

STD infections, condoms must be used 100% of the time! But even with 100% condom use, the risk of any STD, including HIV, is not eliminated.

(To see how at risk you may be, please visit

“Protection” often refers to condom use. This term can be deceptive because condoms only reduce the risk of infection, not eliminate it or “protect” 100% of the time from any STD.

All studies of condom use are done for a limited period of time. Single individuals who are sexually active and continue to be sexual active for years will increase their risk of STD infection, even with 100% condom use.

Two types of failure related to condoms:

  • Method failure: breakage and slippage
  • User failure: inconsistent/incorrect use during sexual acts.


  • For a disease like gonorrhea, the cumulative risk for STDs increases with number of exposures (sex acts).
  • For the Human Papilloma Virus infection (HPV), there is no evidence of any risk reduction of sexual transmission-even with 100% condom use.
  • Chlamydia transmission is reduced by approximately 50% with 100 % condom use.
  • Condoms do not prevent the transmission of STDs from lesions (sores) outside the area covered by a condom.Without condoms infection risk is about 100% after 10 exposures.With consistent and correct (Perfect) condom use: 14% risk after 10 exposures and 53% after 50 acts.

It is important to understand that condom failure has cumulative effect of the risks of getting infected. The greater the number of sexual acts, the greater the risk of infection.

Source: The Medical Institute for Sexual Health. Sex, Condoms & Sex: What We Now Know.

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