21 Ekim 2010 Perşembe

Birth Control : Do Condoms Really Work?

Birth Control : Do Condoms Really Work?

I've heard condoms don't really protect against pregnancy and STDs. So why bother using them?
- David*

Condoms do help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Each year, 85 out of 100 couples who have sex but don't use any form of birth control get pregnant. That number drops to only 15 out of 100 when condoms are used. And no other method of birth control is as successful at protecting people against STDs as condoms.

Condoms are most effective at protecting against STDs like HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Condoms can also protect against genital warts (HPV) and herpes, but are less effective against these because warts and herpes can show up in areas that are not covered by a condom.

The only way to be 100% sure that you won't become pregnant or get an STD is to not have sex at all (called abstinence). But even couples who practice abstinence can benefit from learning about condoms. One study shows that a quarter of the couples who try to abstain from sex get pregnant in their first year together.

Condoms are easy to get and use. Anyone can walk into a drugstore and buy them. It's a good idea to have a condom readily available because they're a good birth control choice for people who haven't planned ahead.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2008

How Well Do They Work? > Birth Control Methods

How Well Do They Work? > Birth Control Methods

Some Methods Work Better Than Others
Some birth control methods work better than others. The chart on the following page compares how well different birth control methods work.

The most effective way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence. However, within the first year of committing to abstinence, many couples become pregnant because they have sex anyway but don't use protection. So it's a good idea even for people who don't plan to have sex to be informed about birth control.

Couples who do have sex need to use birth control properly and every time to prevent pregnancy. For example, the chart below shows that the birth control pill can be effective in preventing pregnancy. But if a girl forgets to take her birth control pills, then this is not an effective method for her. Condoms can be an effective way to prevent pregnancy, too. But if a guy forgets to use a condom or doesn't use it correctly, then it's not an effective way for him to prevent pregnancy.

For every 100 couples using each type of birth control, the chart shows how many of these couples will get pregnant within a year. The information shown is for all couples, not just teenage couples. Some birth control methods may be less effective for teen users. For example, teenage girls who use fertility awareness (also called the rhythm method) may have an even greater chance of getting pregnant than adult women because their bodies have not yet settled into a regular menstrual cycle.

We list the effectiveness of different birth control methods based on their typical use rates. Typical use refers to how the average person uses that method of birth control (compared to "perfect" use, which means no mistakes are made in using that method).

For us to consider a birth control method completely effective, no couples will become pregnant while using that method. Very effective means that between 1 and 2 out of 100 couples become pregnant while using that method. Effective means that 2 to 12 out of 100 couples become pregnant while using that method. Moderately effective means that 13 to 20 out of 100 couples become pregnant while using that method. Less effective means that 21 to 40 out of 100 couples become pregnant while using that method. And not effective means that more than 40 out of 100 couples become pregnant while using that method.

In addition to preventing pregnancy, abstinence and condoms provide some protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, most other birth control methods do not provide much protection against STDs, so condoms should also be used.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: October 2009

Abstinence Birth Control

What Is It?
Abstinence is not having sex. A person who decides to practice abstinence has decided not to have sex.

How Does It Work?
If two people don't have sex, then sperm can't fertilize an egg and there's no possibility of a pregnancy. Some forms of birth control depend on barriers that prevent the sperm from reaching the egg (such as condoms or diaphragms). Others interfere with the menstrual cycle (as birth control pills do). With abstinence, no barriers or pills are necessary because the person is not having sex.

You don't have to be a virgin to practice abstinence. Sometimes people who have been having sex decide not to continue having sex. Even if a person has been having sex, he or she can still choose abstinence to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the future.

How Well Does It Work?
Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Although many birth control methods can have high rates of success if used properly, they can fail occasionally. Practicing abstinence ensures that a girl won't become pregnant because there's no opportunity for sperm to fertilize an egg.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: September 2009
Originally reviewed by: George A. Macones, MD

How Much Does It Cost?

How Much Does It Cost?
Condoms are the least expensive and most available method of birth control — other than abstinence, of course. Male condoms cost about $0.50 to $1 each and are less expensive when they are bought in boxes that contain several condoms.

In addition, many health centers and family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) and some schools distribute them free of charge. Female condoms are a little more expensive and cost about $2 to $4 per condom.

Birth Control And Condom

What Is It?

Condoms are a barrier method of contraception. There are male condoms and female condoms. A male condom is a thin sheath (usually made of latex, a type of rubber) that is worn on the penis. A female condom is a polyurethane sheath with a flexible ring at either end. One end is closed and inserted into the vagina; the other end is open and the ring sits outside the opening of the vagina. The male condom, sometimes called a "rubber" or "prophylactic," is far more commonly used.

How Does It Work?

Condoms work by keeping semen (the fluid that contains sperm) from entering the vagina. The male condom is placed on a guy's penis when it becomes erect (and before any sexual contact). It is unrolled all the way to the base of the penis while holding the tip of the condom to leave some extra room at the end. This creates a space for semen after ejaculation and makes it less likely that the condom will break.

After the guy ejaculates, he should hold the condom at the base of the penis as he pulls out of the vagina. He must do this while the penis is still erect to prevent the condom from slipping off when he gets soft. If this happens, sperm could enter the vagina.

Female Condom
The female condom is inserted into the vagina using the closed-end ring. The other ring creates the open end of the condom. The sheath then lines the walls of the vagina, creating a barrier between the sperm and the cervix. The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours prior to intercourse. It should be removed immediately after sex.

The male and female condoms should not be used at the same time because they can get stuck together and cause one or the other to slip during intercourse, making them ineffective.

Condom Precautions
Once a condom is used, it cannot be reused. A new condom should be used each time you have sex — and it must be used from start to finish every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Never use oil-based lubricants such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or baby oil with condoms because these substances can break down the rubber. A used condom should be thrown in the garbage, not down the toilet.

And if a condom ever seems dry, sticky, or stiff when it comes out of the package, or if it is past its expiration date, throw it away and use a new one. It's a good idea to have several condoms on hand in case there is a problem with one. It's best to store unused condoms in a cool, dry place.

About Birth Control: What You Need to Know

One of the toughest decisions that a lot of teens face is whether to have sex. If people decide to have sex, it means they must also take responsibility to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In the United States, the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than in many other countries. Approximately 750,000 teens become pregnant every year and most didn't plan on becoming pregnant. In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, people who have sex must protect themselves from STDs. For those having sex, condoms must always be used every time to protect against STDs.

The most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. Couples who do decide to have sex can choose from many effective birth control methods.

Check the articles below to learn some important information about different methods of birth control. You may be surprised — some popular ones aren't as effective as people might think.