How safe are condoms?


Posters or videos often rely on slogans with absolute messages that can create the illusion that the condom offers 100% safety in terms of HIV. It is important to know that no safer sex method can provide 100% safety. That’s why we talk about safer sex. There is no such thing as safe sex – but that’s not a bad thing. Lived sexuality always carries the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, but most of them are easily treatable and then quickly disappear. That’s why information, mindfulness and a (regular) check are helpful.

We take a closer look at the effectiveness of condoms/femidoms in connection with various sexually transmitted diseases.

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HIV and condoms

Provided that it is used correctly and the right size is used, a condom/femidom can effectively prevent HIV transmission – however, condoms can slip off during anal or vaginal intercourse (e.g. if an erection weakens) or tear even if used correctly. Stronger condoms are needed for anal sex. Breakage usually occurs because the condom has been stored incorrectly or its shelf life has expired, because the condom is too large or too small, because the lubricant has been skimped on or the wrong lubricant has been used. Or because it has already been damaged with teeth or nails before mounting. Never pair latex condoms with oil-based lubricant, Vaseline or massage oil, but only with water-based lubricant.

Why is the protective effect of condoms lower for some STIs?

In most cases of sexual contact with a person with syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia, the pathogens are transmitted via fingering, groping, licking, caressing, kissing or other stimulation of erogenous zones before anal or vaginal penetration occurs – i.e. before a condom is put on. These bacteria can also be transmitted during the condom rolling process. But of course the use of condoms/femidoms reduces the duration of mucosal contact and therefore reduces the risk of transmission of syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia.

Other sexually transmitted diseases and condoms

The protective effect of condoms/femidoms is significantly lower with regard to syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, as these bacteria are not transmitted via body fluids, but via mucous membrane contact, for example during oral sex, for which very few people use condoms (or so-called leaking cloths).

HPV (genital warts), the most common sexually transmitted disease, is transmitted via skin flakes, so protection by condoms is implausible, and studies have not been able to prove a protective effect of condoms. However, there is a very effective vaccination. Many health insurance companies cover the costs, especially at a younger age.

Herpes is transmitted via direct or indirect contact of mucous membranes with the contents of the blisters. Cold sores can be transmitted to the genitals (or anus) and vice versa. The rule here is: “Don’t blow blisters”.

Self-determined sexual health

Even if condoms cannot offer absolute protection, it is still important to be aware of this reality. Comprehensive education about the effectiveness of Safer-Sex-methods can help us to make self-determined decisions about our sexual health.

Sexual health and protection also means talking about it and with each other

The topic of sex is often stigmatized and taboo. This often starts at school during sex education lessons and continues in the family. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is to talk about it and realize that all sex always carries the risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

Regular STI testing helps

Especially if you have a lot of sex and enjoy it with different partners, you should also test yourself regularly for a possible infection with a sexually transmitted disease. s.a.m health supports you – we offer home tests in laboratory quality just like your doctor’s.

Regardless of whether you have vaginal, oral or anal sex: our test kits contain all the components you need to check where pathogens could be located. We and our checkpoints are also available for you at any time after the initial consultation if you have any questions about the test, STIs or your sexuality.

Sexuelle Gesundheit. Dein Weg.

Unser diskretes Versandtestkit bietet Labortests auf HIV, Syphilis, Tripper (Gonorrhö) und Chlamydien.