We've got you covered during National Condom Week!
Feb. 16, 2022
By Katie Minor
We hope you had a great Valentine’s Day.
Do you have a Valentine? If you don’t, that’s okay — in fact, it might even be a good thing. You don’t need to worry as much about all the stuff that can go wrong this time of year — like an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
But because we’re Monongalia County Health Department, when it comes time to celebrate love and relationships, we like to take note of National Condom Week.
National Condom Week is observed every year starting on February 14. It’s a time to raise awareness and celebrate the way condoms have benefited reproductive and sexual health care.
No matter your sexual preferences or practices, everyone deserves to have a healthy sex life that fits their needs and wants. Condoms can help sexually active individuals maintain control over their sex life.
First, a very brief history of the condom:
For much of human history, condoms have been around to prevent pregnancies, STIs and even insect bites during intercourse.
They even existed as far back as 11,000 B.C.; in fact, a series of cave paintings in France depict something resembling condoms — most likely animal skin or intestine.
Fast forward to the 19th century, when the invention of rubber revolutionized the world, leading to the first rubber condoms in 1855. By 1957, the first lubricated latex condom was produced.
Now, condoms are available everywhere, from pharmacies to online shopping sites. You can even get free condoms when you visit MCHD Clinical Services.
Why are condoms so great? Well, besides being affordable and discreet, making it easy to always be prepared. They’re very effective — when used correctly, male condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy and female condoms are 95% effective.
They are also very effective at preventing STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and HIV.
Of course, the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy or STIs is to not have sex at all.
There are many different types of condoms to choose from. The most common type is a latex condom, but for people who are allergic or sensitive to latex, plastic condoms are also available, made with polyurethane polyisoprene.
Lubricated condoms are very common, and come with a thin coating of lubrication on the condom to prevent pain or irritation during sex, as well as to keep the condom from breaking. Even if you aren’t using an already lubricated condom, it’s a good idea to use lube during sex to make it more comfortable for everyone involved.
Some condoms are sold coated with spermicide, a chemical called nonoxynol-9 that kills sperm. This kind of condom is probably manufactured to give people more peace of mind during sex, but the amount of spermicide on the condom is so small that it likely won’t make a difference and could just irritate your genitals.
If you want extra protection, you can buy a separate sperm-killing product or just abstain from sex altogether.
There are also textured condoms, which include ribs or studs designed to make sex more pleasurable. Flavored condoms also exist for this reason. Of course, pleasure is different for everybody, so textured condoms aren’t guaranteed to feel good for everybody. It’s best to talk to your partner and experiment with different options to see what feels best.
You might sometimes see novelty condoms, like glow-in-the-dark condoms, but be careful. They often aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and might be less effective in stopping pregnancy or STIs. Be sure to check the packaging to make sure.
Earlier, I mentioned that while male condoms are very effective, female condoms are also an option which are almost just as effective.
All the above mentioned condoms are male condoms, but there is only one type of FDA-approved female condom available. It’s made of nitrile, which is a type of rubber free from latex, that comes pre-lubricated.
While a male condom is rolled onto an erect penis, a female condom is inserted into the vagina like a tampon.
Whether using a male or female condom, it is important to use both correctly in order to be effective.
If you and your partner are sexually active, take a moment to observe National Condom Week — be prepared with a condom!
Katie Minor is the public information office assistant at Monongalia County Health Department.