The highest rates of STIs in the UK are in people between 15 and 25 and this has increased since last year. 64% of Chlamydia and 54% of genital warts cases are in heterosexual under 25s. If you have more than one sexual partner at one time it’s likely that you’ll come into contact with someone with an STI. Whilst most aren’t that hard to treat it’s never nice to have any sort of illness – you need to go to the Doc, get the medication and wait until you’re better. It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Frankly it’s never worth taking the risk. We’re always saying it here at DW, but we’ll say it again just in case, prevention is always way better than treatment. So, that’s why want to talk about condoms. With the launch of out new Lust Diseases site it seems fitting. Basically condoms are the only way to protect yourself and your partner from STIs.
There’s often the argument that there isn’t enough reference to using protection on the screen. And when you think about, there really isn’t. You rarely see two people in films or on telly stopping in the heat of the moment to use a condom. It’s weird that shows and films do seem to promote unprotected sex because it is so important for everyone, especially young people to more careful that they are.
Also, in online and written pornography condoms are never used. This September after several American porn stars were diagnosed with HIV some of them have spoken up and are calling for condoms to be compulsory for porn. We can’t make condoms compulsory day to day but imagine how much STI rates would drop if they were. If it was law to carry condoms and use them with new and random partners we’d slash STI rates within months.
It pretty much comes down to the fact that it really is all too easy to just not bother with using condoms. For straight guys the incentive to use condoms is lessened by the fact that so many girls are on some kind of birth control that protects from the possibility of getting pregnant. So people are basically not really worrying about the possibly of picking up an STI because they’re preventing conception.
In contrast gay guys are much more condom aware – HIV is still a killer and a condom is the only way to prevent it. Interestingly back in the 1980’s and 90’s the gay community got into condoms in a big way and made a real difference to the increase in aids. Now however, with the improvements in retro-viral drugs, young gay men are choosing not to use condoms as they feel the threat as ‘old fashioned’ and HIV seems to be once again on the increase.
Once you’ve got a regular partner you might decide to go and get tested together before ditching the condoms. Choosing to do this is a pretty big commitment but if you’re a heterosexual couple you need to make sure you’re using another form of contraception if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
Having unprotected sex with a ‘non-exclusive’ partner is taking a risk – don’t think it won’t happen to you just because it hasn’t yet. Young people can and do get STIs. If you’ve managed to dodge the bullet so far doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t insist on wearing a condom. Even if the girl or guy you’re with tells you it’s okay – remember that it’s your health so you should do all you can to look after it.
Basically we all know how to avoid STIs but it doesn’t seem to have stopped an increase that’s running at 5% a year and is heavily concentrated around 15-24 year olds. OK we get it, in the heat of the moment finding a condom is the last thing on your mind. Who wants to break ‘the moment’? Or maybe you just think it could never happen to you. Anyone can have an STI and using barrier protection (condoms, Femidoms and dental dams) is the only way you can avoid catching them. Whatever your sexual habits, it only takes sexual contact one time without using protection to catch one.
Teenage pregnancy rates are on the decline which you think would also mean a decrease in STI rates but this isn’t the case which means only one thing – people aren’t using condoms and for contraception but relying on methods that don’t prevent STIs. The pill puts the responsibility for contraception on girls – fair play the pill has probably been the best thing to happen to women in the last 50 years. It’s given them lots of freedom.
However if that’s the case it should put the responsibility for protection on guys. If you’re relying on a girl to remember to take the pill every morning the least you can do is remember to pack a condom in your wallet so you neither catch nor share anything you wouldn’t want to.
People, guys especially, claim sex doesn’t feel as good when you use a condom. Amazingly condoms have been around for 400 years? Originally they were made from sheep intestines and then rubber. But in the last 50 years there haven’t been many changes or improvements in how they are made. Strangely enough back in March Bill Gates launched a contest to find the next generation of condoms. It’s part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is offering $100, 000 dollars of start up money to the best idea that’s either re-invents the condoms or develops the current ‘model’ using material or shapes that enhance feeling.
Until this magical new condom is actually available you’ve got to just put up with the ones we’ve already got. It’s all about changing the way you think about having sex, if you make using a condom part of your routine you won’t be as likely to forget or get too caught up in the moment to remember.