foureyeddarlin (foureyeddarlin) wrote in medicalnews,

Condom Mishaps Spell Trouble

Condom Mishaps Spell Trouble for Men

Fri Sep 17,11:47 PM ET Health - HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDayNews) -- A new study of people who visited a Colorado sexually transmitted disease clinic found that about half of those who regularly used condoms reported mishaps ranging from breakage to slippage.

The condom problems spelled trouble, at least for men. The risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia grew by several times among the heterosexual men who reported condom "errors." For reasons that aren't entirely clear, condom problems didn't translate into higher risks for heterosexual women or gay men.

"This shows that errors do undermine consistent condom use," said study co-author Dr. Judith Shlay, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "It's not just consistent use, it's consistent and correct use that's important."

The effectiveness of condoms has long been a topic of debate in medical circles, with some arguing that they're too failure-prone to be reliable and others saying they do an adequate job of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Earlier this year, Shlay and colleagues found that people who consistently used condoms got fewer cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia than those who used them only occasionally. Condoms also prevented transmission of genital herpes in men and possibly in women, too.

The new study, which appears in the September issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, looked at surveys filled out by 26,291 homosexual men and heterosexual men and women who visited the clinic between January 2001 and January 2003. Only 13 percent said they used condoms consistently.

Of those people, nearly 2,000 answered questions about their experience with condoms. They reported an average of seven lifetime sexual partners for women, 13 for heterosexual men, and 30 for gay men.

Among women, 57 percent reported condom mishaps, compared to 48 percent of heterosexual men and 33 percent of gay men. Condom breakage was the most commonly reported problem. The next most common mishaps were slippage and failing to put on a condom before intercourse; other problems included leakage and putting the condom on inside-out.

For heterosexual men, condom mishaps increased their chances of having gonorrhea by 5.5 times and chlamydia by 3.2 times. Their risk of having urethritis, a urinary tract infection, more than doubled.

Among women and gay men, however, condom mishaps didn't boost the risks of the STDs studied. In women, this may be because there are more condom mishaps than they realize, Shlay said. "There have been other studies that have found men don't always report to women that they had a [condom] error. We assume the difference is probably related to that."

So what should condom users do to reduce the risk of problems? Experts advise users to avoid oil-based lubricants, make sure to put on a condom before intercourse starts, and hold the base of the condom during removal to prevent spillage.

"Practice makes perfect. The more you use condoms, the less likely you are to encounter problems," said Markus Steiner, a senior epidemiologist at Family Health International, which advocates the prevention of STDs.
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