Earlier this week, I overheard a rather disappointing conversation as I was sitting in the waiting room of my gynecologist’s office.
It went something like this: A young woman—I’d say, early twenties—enters the waiting room to discuss an issue she has with the secretary.
The twenty-something is extremely upset because—due to changes in her health insurance—she’s no longer going to be able to receive the NuvaRing (for free, I assume?), and now has to switch to an alternate form of birth control that will now cost her upwards of $50 a month.
As the secretary was trying to calm her down, she was mentioning cheaper forms of protection. And when she brought up condoms, the younger woman cut her off and said she’s looking for “protection that will actually work.”
Don’t get me wrong, I can empathize with the younger woman: changes to your health insurance can be extremely stressful, especially if you lose it. Covering certain health costs can also be stressful, especially if you’re broke. (I’m looking at you, school loans.)
But making the claim that condoms are ineffective, that I cannot see eye to eye on. In fact, I just read a rather interesting piece from HuffPo that hit the nail right on the head. The author, Lynn Barclay, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Sexual Health Association, notes:
Condoms may be the most misunderstood and under-appreciated proven method of birth control and STI prevention. According to the CDC, condoms are 98 percent effective at preventing unintended pregnancies when used consistently and correctly, which means that over the course of one calendar year two percent of women who use condoms as their primary birth control method will experience an unintended pregnancy…Condoms are positioned as less effective simply because they are not being used, resulting in confusion among consumers and experts alike. The bottom line is: condoms work, and we should be encouraging their use.
And while it is great that there are so many birth control options out there for women, the piece reinforces that we should still be promoting the use of condoms, considering it’s the only way to prevent transmission of STIs.
So just how many new STI infections occur each year in the U.S.? According to the CDC: 19 million.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty safe to say we still need to promote condom usage.
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