Recently, I was out with friends and we were discussing condoms. One friend mentioned that even he, a middle-aged, open-minded adult, learned a few things about condoms in our conversation that might be helpful for others to know. Since this information holds great value for many ages, behold:
5 Condom Myths and Facts:
Myth #1: You can't feel anything when you wear a condom.
Fact: Youth in the classes I facilitate had fun noticing with eyes closed and a condom stretched over their hands that they could feel someone touching their hand, blowing on it, and tickling it with a feather. Any change in sensation is minor and not worth an STD or unwanted pregnancy.
Myth #2: The condom won't fit.
Fact: Condoms are made in different sizes, flavors and textures. Our youth were challenged to see how far they could stretch/blow up a latex condom without breaking it. 42" was the total length they managed. Now, there may be someone for whom that doesn't fit, but I haven't met him....
Myth #3: Condoms are too difficult to use.
Fact: There is a right-side out way to put one on, and practice does make it easier. Students use wooden models after they've checked the expiration date (yes, condoms have expiration dates--using old ones can increase the likelihood they will break. Age makes them more brittle and less lubricated) and what material they are made of (lambskin condoms do not protect against diseases; they are porous. Use latex or polyurethane). They also practice putting one on the model correctly while blindfolded, since it may be under dark circumstances when they use one, no matter how old they are before that happens. Bananas and/or cucumbers work for practicing, too. The point is, don't make this an issue. For something as important as sexual health, a little practice is good. Kind of like wearing a seat belt when you drive, or learning how to put the car seat in correctly when you have a baby. But wait! You have a good 85% chance of not having a baby if you use a condom every time!
Myth #4: Condoms are for guys only.
Fact: False! Female condoms, a separate product, are able to be inserted up to 8 hours prior to intercourse and provide protection of the outer labia, as well as the vaginal area.
Myth #5: Keeping a condom in my wallet at all times is a good idea.
Fact: The heat and compression of a condom in a wallet over time can expedite its decay, making it more likely to break when needed. Heat and latex aren't the best combo. Instead, put one in your front pocket, or find a small tin to clip on your key chain that holds a condom. Ladies, check out http://www.justincaseinc.com for pretty compacts that also discreetly hold two condoms. Be sure to check that expiration date and replace them when needed.
Just one more thing. The research shows that educating youth about condoms does not increase their sexual activity. In fact, it decreases the rates of pregnancy and disease. Be smart. Be safe. If you are sexually active, use a condom every time.
Amy Johnson, MSW, is a Personal Life and Parent Coach and co-author of the book, “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations.” She facilitates faith and sexuality classes for youth, and parenting classes in the Puget Sound area. Amy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.