Contraceptives can be categorized into four main groups which are barriers, hormonal, surgical and natural family planning. Of the four, barrier and hormonal methods are the most commonly used worldwide.

The Condom, however, remains the most popular. This is because it is the only contraception so far that combines the function of prevention of pregnancy with prevention of STDs at a go.

It is said to have 99% effective rate. Almost everyone seems to know what condoms are and what they are used for, yet there is still a great misconception and inhibition about it. A friend once told me condoms are for prostitutes and not decent people. Really?

Besides all the prejudices and misconceptions about the condom, not everyone who uses it, know how to do so properly and effectively, making nonsense of the whole process in many cases. The simplicity and effectiveness of this device make it the most popular and widely used by individuals around the world. Unfortunately, it is a fact that many, including sex pros, often make mistakes while using them.

According to research conducted by the Indiana University, USA, comprising 50 different studies on condom usage and spanning 16 years of data, they discovered a truckload of errors by many people who use the condom.  I have summarised some of the findings below.

* Many people do not take the decision to use condoms early enough. Most times, they would have started intercourse, then withdraw to apply the condom. This is a no brainer if you want to protect yourself against STDs. The studies showed that between 17 per cent and 51.1 per cent of people are guilty of this error.

*Quite a number of people do not know that the tip of the condom is meant to collect the ejaculated semen at the end of the show. For this category, about 24.3 to 45.7 were discovered guilty of this error.

*About 48.1 per cent of women and 41.6 per cent of men reported that they didn’t remember to squeeze the air from the tip of the condom before using.

*If you are aiming to prevent pregnancy as well as STD, then you should not be doing this. Between 4 per cent and 30.4 per cent of participants in the studies, reported they began rolling the condom on inside out. On realising it was the wrong side up, they flipped it over and continued using it. The implication of this is that, if the partner has an STD, chances are that the condom might have picked it and it is that side that will come in contact with the other partner.

*While it is true that common sense does sometimes vanish when hormones begin to rage, it is important that you seriously consider safety when you find yourself in the heat of passion. Studies show that about 82.7 percent of women and 74.5 percent of men reported that they fail to check the condition of the condom before use. Keep your eyes open for damaged wrappings, expiry dates or visible imperfections while wearing the condom.

*Using sharp objects, even teeth or nails, to open the condom is a no, no as it can damage the condom. Between 2.1 percent and 11.2 percent of people admitted opening condom packets with sharp objects in the studies.

*Oil-based lubricants are not the best options when it comes to sex generally, more importantly so when you are using latex condoms. It weakens the latex, causing it to break. About 3.2 per cent of women and 4.7 per cent of men reported using an oil-based lube with a latex condom.  Oil-based lubricants mean no Vaseline, baby oil or lotions, etc.,

*Protection is not just about preventing the semen from contact with the female, it is about the whole sexual organ. About 11.2 per cent of women and 8.8 per cent of men admitted they had begun intercourse before rolling the condom all the way up, while another 13.6 per cent and 44.7 per cent of the respondents reported removing the condom before intercourse was complete. This often happens for mischievous reasons too, especially where the partners are desperate or deceitful with each other.

*A lot of guys prefer to keep the pistons buried in the valves long after the action is over. However, this indulgence cannot be encouraged when using the condom as the penis will shrink and the condom will possibly unroll itself. About 31 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women admitted in the studies that after sex, they failed to promptly and properly withdraw after ejaculation.

*Condoms must be properly stored away from direct sunlight and heat to keep them in optimum condition and avoid degradation of the latex. Between 3.3 per cent and 19.1 per cent of people in the studies admitted storing their condoms in conditions that did not comply with the recommendations on the package. Best to buy on a need to use basis. better still, store in drawers or clothes closets.

 *Though this might sound a bit over the top, quite a number of respondents,  1.4 per cent and 3.3 per cent admitted in the studies that they have reused a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter. (I can’t even imagine this)

Important rules to follow when opting for the condom include:

Only latex or polyurethane (plastic) condoms will protect you from STIs. Do not use condoms made from any other material.

Never have contact with your partner’s genitals before wearing a condom. The slightest contact alone is enough to contract an STI.

Put the condom on, only when the penis is erect, it cannot be worn any other time.

Always squeeze the air out at the top of the condom while rolling it over the penis. The little space at the top is where the ejaculation sperm will stay at orgasm.

Always hold the condom in place at the base of the penis before withdrawing after sex. This will ensure that the condom does not slip into the vagina.

Always dispose of condoms after use.

It’s very easy to tear a condom while still inside the wrapper, so be careful.

Once damaged, please throw it away and get another one. Never manage.

Always use a new condom for each kind of sex you have.

No matter the type of relationship you are in, always try to be in control of your sexual health. Remember that HIV/AIDS is still pretty much around and raging on this side of the world. Recently, reports had it that Gonorrhea and Candida are on the increase, especially among young adults.

You will do yourself a huge favour by protecting yourself properly if you must have sex. It is your body, it is your life. It is your right.

Do have a wonderful weekend!!

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