Some things seem like common sense or at least something a quick Google search or instruction manual could explain. And yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to offer warnings to protect uneducated Americans. For example, the CDC issued a warning to all sexually-active Americans, saying they should stop washing and reusing condoms. While many of us could barely imagine why such a warning was necessary, the center obviously thought it was required. In a tweet linking to condom and STD facts and statistics, the CDC wrote, “We say it because people do it. Don’t wash or reuse condoms. Use a fresh one for each sex act.” However unbelievable this idea is, apparently enough people do it to warrant an official CDC warning! (1, 2)
CDC Warns About Condom Reuse
In response to the CDC’s Twitter warning, people showed amusement that it was not obvious to some users that a condom should never be washed and then reused. When used properly, condoms can be highly effective in preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted diseases, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It should come as so surprised that a common sense warning like this one became necessary considering fewer than half of U.S. high schools met the CDC requirements for sexual education in 2015. According to a 2017 CDC health report, only one out every three Americans use condoms, and many of them may be using them incorrectly. (2, 3, 4)
Back in 2012, a study published in the journal Sexual Health examined condom use. After finding 1.4%-3.3% of responses had reused a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter, co-author and University of Kentucky professor, Richard Crosby, said that researchers “chronically underestimated how complicated condom use can be.” The act of washing and reusing male condoms results in a weakening of the latex. This can easily lead to rips or tears in the condom that increase the risk of pregnancy and STDs, which defeats the entire purpose of using one. (2, 5)
STD Threats Increase with Improper Condom Usage
Numbers of STD and STI cases in America are on the rise. According to the CDC, more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in 2016. This rise in disease is making condom use more important than ever! According to the CDC, for condom use to be at all effective, a new condom should be used “for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex through the entire sex act (from start to finish).” Sexually active Americans are advised to refrain from keeping condoms in wallets, to remain aware of the condom expiration dates, and to never use more than one condom at a single time. (6)
If you are an adult who is currently or plans to be sexually active, always practice safe sex and make sure you understand how to properly use a condom. STDs are a real risk, and so is pregnancy. Be sure you understand the difference between protected and unprotected sex before you engage.