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Pavelko: Correct condom use is important

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Collegian | Rashida Obika

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

There are a variety of different contraceptives. Whether barrier methods, hormonal methods or even sterilization, they can all be used to reduce the chance of getting pregnant.

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One of the most common is a condom, a sheath designed to keep bodily fluids from coming into contact during sexual interactions. A male condom, or an external condom, is the one most people are probably familiar with. This type of condom goes over the penis. However, there is another type of condom designed for female bodies called an internal condom, which goes inside the vaginal canal before sex. These types of condoms are less commonly known than external condoms.

While condoms might not be everyone’s preferred method of birth control, it is important that everyone who engages in sex with a penis knows how to put one on. Condoms are an extremely effective way to stay safe during sex for a few reasons. 

External condoms are 98% effective at stopping pregnancy if used perfectly. However, taking into account that most people are not using condoms as effectively as they do in clinical trials, its realistic efficacy is reduced to about 87%.

Sophie Orsund, a member of the Colorado State University organization Creating Respect, Educating Wellness by and for Students, provided some tips on how to make sure you are using an external condom to its full potential.

“(The) first thing we like to recommend is that people check that their condom is not expired,” Orsund said. 

Condoms have expiration dates like many other products. All condoms should have an expiration date located somewhere on the package. If a condom has expired, it is more likely to break during use. After ensuring your condom is not expired, simply tear the condom package open from the perforation point to remove the condom. Do not use scissors or your teeth to open the package, which risks breaking the condom inside.

“There’s no sexy way to open a condom,” Orsund said.

To further ensure that you are using a condom as effectively as possible, make sure the condom is put on before the penis goes anywhere near the vulva, as pre-ejaculate can still contain sperm. You should also use a new condom for every erection. If you are uncertain of how exactly to put on a condom, websites like bedsider.org contain step-by-step directions to ensure you are putting a condom on in the most effective and safe way.

In addition to preventing pregnancy, condoms are also a great way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases. By creating a barrier between the genitals and preventing the transfer of fluids, condoms can help prevent transmitting STDs including HIV. While not 100% effective, it can significantly help reduce the risk. 

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A prescription is not required to buy condoms, and they are found in a variety of stores. At pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, one pack of 12 condoms costs around $7; however, many family planning clinics offer free or reduced-cost condoms. However, at CSU, you can find condoms for free at numerous places. At the CSU Health Network, you can get free sexual health supplies, including a variety of condoms, dental dams and lube. Student groups and resident assistants at CSU can even put in requests for sexual health supply deliveries from CREWS.

Reach Hana Pavelko at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @hanasolo13.

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