A venereal or sexually transmitted disease (STD) is the last thing anyone hopes to acquire during a moment of passion. Whilst some STDs are relatively easy to cure they do not always make their presence known. They can be transmitted by a partner who is blissfully unaware they are about to spread something nasty.
An undetected STD can have serious health implications. The only way to guarantee one remains free from an STD is to practice abstinence or to engage in a solely monogamous relationship with a person who has received the all clear from a health check. If those options don’t appeal then condoms are a must to reduce the risk of an embarrassing infection and potentially serious infection.
Condoms help to reduce the risk of contracting an STD but are by no means foolproof. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “consistent and correct use of male latex condoms can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of STD transmission.” To maximise the protection offered condoms should be used consistently and correctly. Health professionals recommend latex condoms as the best barrier method to prevent bodily fluids mingling, but it remains important that proper condom use is followed.
Condoms should be within their ‘use by date’ and ‘disease prevention’ should be clearly labelled on the packet. They should be left in place until intercourse has ended and then held in place whilst being removed to ensure the fluids are retained inside the condom. They should be used for genital, anal and oral sex, as unprotected sex by each of these methods can result in the transmission of an STD.
Condoms provide the most protection against the transmission of the HIV virus, the most serious infection which can be contracted through sex. They also reduce the risks of contracting chlamydia, trichomoniasis and gonorrhea. Applying a condom before oral sex also helps to reduce the risk of gonorrhea and syphilis.
STDs which are spread via skin-to-skin contact still pose a problem even if condoms are used. Genital warts (caused by the human papilloma virus – HPV), pubic lice, scabies, genital herpes and syphilis are each spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Condoms are only effective in preventing transmission if the condom completely covers all infected areas, such as the obvious presence of a penile wart. They remain ineffective in preventing genital lice, or crabs as they are often referred to.
Whilst condoms cannot guarantee complete freedom from the risks of STDs, correct condom usage can reduce the odds of contracting an unwelcome reminder of a risky sexual encounter.