3 things condoms can’t always prevent

Many types of birth control help prevent pregnancy, but condoms are the only kind that decrease the risk of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms stop the transmission of semen, making it less likely that the types of STDs that are passed through semen get passed between people.

However, not all STDs are spread through semen. Condoms can’t prevent the types of STDs that get passed via skin-to-skin contact, which makes regular STD testing so important. Here are three things that condoms can’t completely protect people against.

HPV

This is the most common STD, and depending on the strain, HPV can cause genital warts and an increased risk of many types of cancers. In many cases however, no physical symptoms are present whatsoever, which means the best way to tell if you have HPV is to be tested for it. It’s likely that condoms decrease one’s risk of HPV, but experts don’t believe that condoms completely protect against HPV, because it can be passed through skin-to-skin contact.

Herpes

Using a condom can prevent the spread of herpes, but if someone is having an outbreak (visible or nonvisible – even if they don’t know it), they can pass herpes along to another person during sex. This means regular testing for herpes, avoiding sex during active outbreaks, and taking proper medicine to treat an outbreak are the best ways to make sure that you don’t pass on, or receive, a herpes infection.

Syphilis

Condoms decrease the rate at which this STD is spread. But syphilis can cause sores in places that aren’t covered by a condom, which in turn makes it more possible for them to be spread to another person. So long as there is skin-to-skin contact with the affected area, it’s possible to spread syphilis even when using a condom properly.

What’s a sexually active person to do? Well, if you aren’t trying to conceive, keep using condoms, and make sure that you get tested for STDs every three to six months, depending on your number of partners. Getting screened for STDs every three to six months is the best way to safeguard yourself against the health risks caused by an untreated STD.


Sources
  • Ricki Pollycove.“Condoms not effective against HPV or herpes.” SFgate. Hearst Communications, Jan 21 2013. Web.
  • “Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet.” CDC. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 19 2016. Web.
  • “Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet.” CDC. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 19 2016. Web.
  • McKinzie Brocail. “STDs you can get while wearing a condom.” STDcheck. STDcheck.com, Aug 24 2015. Web.

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