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31 May 2004

Condoms: A parent's guide

When you do the laundry, you discover a condom in your son’s pocket. Count your lucky stars. Even in this day and age when we are bombarded with information about HIV and safer sex, many teens refuse to use condoms.

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When you do the laundry, you discover a condom in your son’s pocket. Count your lucky stars. Even in this day and age when we are bombarded with information about HIV and safer sex, many teens refuse to use condoms.

Apart from abstinence, the consistent and correct use of condoms is still the most effective way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The effectiveness of condoms was tested in a two-year study of “discordant couples” (couples where one partner is infected and the other is not) in Europe. It was found that, among the 124 couples who reported consistent use of latex condoms, none of the uninfected partners became infected. However, among the 121 couples who used condoms inconsistently, 10% of the uninfected partners became infected.

Condoms are easy to use and freely available and have the added advantage of preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Why then do many boys prefer to play Russian Roulette than to protect themselves and their partners?

Research has shown that boys (and grown men) complain that condoms reduce sensitivity and interfere with lovemaking. Many hide behind the excuse that “condoms break anyway, so what’s the point?”.

When and why do condoms break?
Condom breakage or slippage is almost always caused by user errors such as using a petroleum-based lubricant, the use of deteriorated or out-of-date condoms, or storing condoms at a high temperature over a long period of time in places such as a car glove compartment or a wallet. So, it is no longer enough to encourage boys to use condoms. They should also be educated about its correct use.

Here is what your teen should know:

  • Only use new, tested, high-quality condoms.
  • Check the expiry date on the condom wrapper.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dark, dry place away from excessive heat and light.
  • Open the wrapper carefully so that the condom does not tear. Be careful not to tear condoms with long nails, teeth, other sharp objects or jewellery.
  • Use condoms from start to finish during oral, anal or vaginal sex. Pre-ejaculate (“pre-cum”) also contains the virus. The condom should be put on before entry, when the penis is erect.
  • Always use male condoms when performing oral sex on a man.
  • Never use oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline or baby oil with male condoms. If extra lubrication is needed, use water-based lubricants such as KY jelly.
  • Make sure the condom is the right way around. First unroll it a little bit to check the direction in which it unrolls. It should roll down easily.
  • If the male is not circumcised, pull the foreskin of the penis back (gently) before putting on the condom.
  • In putting on the condom, squeeze the nipple or empty space at the end of the condom to remove the air. Do not put the condom tightly against the tip of the penis; leave the small empty space at the end of the condom to hold the semen (if this isn't done correctly, the condom might break).
  • Unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis, to a point as close as possible to the testicles.
  • If the condom tears during sex, withdraw the penis immediately and put on a new condom.
  • After ejaculation, withdraw the penis while it is still erect. Hold the rim of the condom as you withdraw, so that the condom does not slip off and spill seminal fluid.
  • Remove the condom carefully before the penis loses its erection so that seminal fluid does not spill out.

This may be awkward and difficult to discuss with your child, but it is a lot easier than having to deal with a positive HIV diagnosis. (Ilse Pauw, Health24)

 
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