Do condoms make sex safer?

I’m sure you’ve probably heard people say, “Use a condom every time you have sex.”

You may think that condoms make sex safer, but research shows that’s not the case. Condoms used to prevent pregnancy fail in about 14% of couples in the first year that they were using them. Even if a condom is used every time, it can only reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection, but not eliminate the risk.

The truth is, even if you use a condom every single time you have sex, you’re still at risk for both pregnancy and STIs. And up until right now, there is no evidence that consistently using a condom during oral sex will reduce your chance of getting most STIs, including HIV.

My girlfriend just let me know that she’s pregnant. I’m not ready to be a dad and I’m seriously thinking of telling her to get an abortion. I’d even pay for her to have one. What should I do?

None of us should be having sex if we are not ready for what could happen, because sex creates babies. But now that you found out that your girlfriend is pregnant you have a lot to think about. Try not to rush into a decision even if it feels like you need to. Talk with your girlfriend and discuss what your options are. Try to get some good counsel from wise people in your life. Maybe even go to a pregnancy care center where they will discuss the options over with you.

What your girlfriend probably needs right now is your support and knowing that you will be there for her. Most girls don’t want abortions, but often feel pressure from their partners to have one. Abortion is a serious decision and not necessarily over and done with after the procedure is finished. Some people experience post abortion syndrome (depression, anxiety, flashbacks, etc) that affect men as well. Don’t freak out. You’ve got some time to make this decision. Before you decide make sure you have ALL the information on the pros and cons of each possible choice.

Do I have to avoid sex forever to avoid STDs?

NO!  It is totally possible to have sex (and lots of it!) and still avoid infection!

But before I tell you how, you must first know that sexual contact is not the only way to get an STD or STI:

1.   Some people have gotten them passed on from their mothers—either at birth or through breast-feeding.

2.   Some people have gotten them by being exposed to someone else’s bodily fluid in a non-sexual way—like from sharing a dirty needle for drugs or being exposed to someone else’s blood in a bad car accident.

3.   Some people have gotten them through certain types of skin-to-skin contact—like touching someone in an infected area.

If those situations don’t apply to you then here’s how to avoid the risk of STIs:

1.   Wait until you are married to have any kind of sexual contact.
2.   Marry someone who is free from any STIs. (How can you know for sure? Well, take a lot of time (years) to get to know that the person is trustworthy and honest. If that person has had sex before, he or she should get tested after avoiding sex for six months or so.)
3.   Stay faithful in that marriage. If you don’t cheat on each other, you don’t introduce new STI risks to the relationship!
4.   The two of you can have as much sex as you want without the worry of STIs!

ENJOY!

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)

What HPV is:

It is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is very easy to get, hard to diagnose, and hard to treat. Both women and men can get it. There are six million new cases in the U.S. each year. The CDC says “at least 50% of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives.”

There are about one hundred different types (strains) of the HPV virus.

High-risk HPV types can cause cervical cancer in women, and other kinds of cancer in men or women.

Low-risk HPV types can cause genital warts and low-grade cervical cell changes that are not associated with cervical cancer.

All types of HPV are incurable. But not all HPV causes cancer.

Symptoms and treatment of HPV:

Most people who have HPV don’t know it because many times there are no symptoms or symptoms that are easily noticeable.

For some people, HPV warts will grow on (or inside) the genital area or anus, or on the thigh. These warts can be very tiny or can grow into large clusters. They may be itchy or painful or irritating.

There is no cure for it, only treatments of the symptoms of HPV. Warts are treated by freezing, burning, laser removal, drugs or surgery-all of which have the potential to be quite stressful or uncomfortable.

HPV warts can grow back even after they have been removed because the virus is still present in the body.

Other problems that HPV can cause:

Occasionally, HPV in a pregnant woman can be passed on to the baby during the delivery. The baby may develop warts in the throat or voice box.

How can HPV be passed on to me?

HPV can be passed on even if the infected person has no symptoms.

It can be passed on by any kind of sexual contact-vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex.

It can be passed on by skin to skin contact (touching the infected skin) of someone who has it.

How can I avoid HPV?

The ideal situation for avoiding HPV is to not have sex until marriage and marry someone who is free from HPV and who is committed to being faithful to you.

(Never having sex would also work, but it is not necessary if a person chooses abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in marriage.)

Condoms have limited effectiveness in preventing the spread of HPV because it can easily be passed through skin to skin contact in areas not covered by the condom.

What about the HPV vaccination?

The U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a vaccine for females that protects against 2 types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers and 2 types of HPV that cause 90% of all genital warts.

The other types of HPV will not be prevented by use of the vaccine. (This means about 30% or cervical cancers and 10% of genital warts will not be prevented by the vaccine.) Routine PAP tests are therefore still recommended.

Females ages 11 or 12 are recommended to get the vaccine, to be most effective, although older girls and women up to 26 can be given it as well.

This vaccine does not treat existing HPV infections. And it has not yet been determined how long the vaccine will provide protection against HPV.

How do I know if I have HPV?

Women can have regular PAP tests to screen for cervical cancer. Sometimes a doctor will order an HPV test as well.

Men should see a doctor if warts are discovered.

See a doctor if you are concerned that you may have HPV. A person can have HPV even if warts are not present. However, if a person has chosen to wait until marriage for sex and stays faithful in marriage, that person can feel a high level of confidence that HPV is not present.

What do I do if I have HPV?

Tell your current and past sexual partners.

Since having an incurable STI can create feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and depression, talking to a professional counselor may help some people.

Choose to stop being sexually active to avoid infecting others.

Honestly and carefully share your health information with a future possible marriage partner. This conversation will not be an easy one. But it is important to building a trusting, healthy relationship. Yes, that person may decide to end the relationship. But, that person may also decide to marry you, in spite of the health risk. Ultimately, it is right for that person to be given the information and the opportunity to choose.

Herpes

What herpes is:

It is a sexually transmitted disease that is common in both women and men. One in five Americans who are twelve or older has herpes.

The two types of herpes are HSV1 and HSV2. HSV2 is more commonly thought of as the sexually transmitted infection, but either type can be the cause of an infection or outbreak in the genital area.

HSV1 could be the cause of blister outbreaks around the mouth (cold sores or fever blisters) and not necessarily be a sexually transmitted infection. It can be passed on even without sexual contact (for instance, by sharing a cup or lipstick).

However, if a person had HSV1 on the mouth and performs oral sex, HSV1 could be transmitted to the genitals of the other person through this sexual activity. Also, HSV2 (or HSV1) could be passed from the genitals to the mouth in the same way.

Most people who have herpes don’t know it because many times there are no symptoms.

While herpes does not usually cause serious health problems, there is no cure for it, only treatments of the symptoms.

Symptoms and treatment of herpes:

Before and during an outbreak, flu-like symptoms may appear.

The most common symptoms are painful blisters and sores. This outbreak of blisters may last a few weeks then go away. But a person will likely have outbreaks like this several times a year, every year.

Herpes does not have a cure, only treatment of the symptoms.

A person may try to keep the outbreaks from lasting so long or from happening so often by taking medication prescribed by a doctor. This medication would need to be taken throughout a person’s whole life. The cost of this medication over a person’s lifetime could be quite high.

Other problems that herpes can cause:

Having herpes makes a person more at risk to get HIV if exposed to it.

Herpes in a pregnant woman can be passed on to the child, especially during the delivery. The doctor may do a C-section (cesarean section) deliver to reduce the risk to the baby. (Many women consider C-section delivery to be less desirable than vaginal delivery because of the added risks, discomfort and recovery time.)

How can herpes be passed on to me?

A person does not need to be in the middle of an outbreak to pass on herpes. Herpes can be passed on even if an infected person has no symptoms.

It can be passed on by any kind of sexual contact-vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex.

It can be passed on by skin to skin contact (touching the infected skin) of someone who has it.

It can be passed on by being in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, like saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions.

How can I avoid herpes?

The ideal situation for avoiding herpes is to not have sex until marriage and marry someone who is free from herpes and who is committed to being faithful to you.

(Never having sex would also work, but it is not necessary if a person chooses abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in marriage.)

Condom use can only reduce the risk, even with 100% correct usage 100% of the time. Herpes can be passed on to areas on the body that are not covered by a condom.

How do I know if I have herpes?

See a doctor for a blood test. A person can have herpes even if blisters or sores are not present.

What do I do if I have herpes?

Tell your current and past sexual partners. They will need to be tested also.

Since having an incurable STI can create feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and depression, talking to a professional counselor may help some people.

Choose to stop being sexually active to avoid infecting others.

Honestly and carefully share your health information with a future possible marriage partner. This conversation will not be an easy one. But it is important to building a trusting, healthy relationship. Yes, that person may decide to end the relationship. But, that person may also decide to marry you, in spite of the health risk. Ultimately, it is right for that person to be given the information and the opportunity to choose.

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 STDwizard.org.)

“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.

Facts:

  • 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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