Celebrate International Condom Day with the Sex Rights Africa Network!

International Condom Day (ICD) is an informal holiday usually observed on February 13. Condom use is an essential part of ensuring that if romance leads to sex, it is safe sex, so ICD conveniently falls the day before Valentine’s Day. That means we have 24 hours to  remind people that love and romance, sex appeal and attraction go hand in hand with trust and protection!

Help the Sex Rights Africa Network use ICD to promote safer sex awareness in a fun and creative way by sharing the information here and by taking our Condom Demo Challenge.

C for Condoms, C for Consent, C for Choice

Condoms – male or female – are the most effective means available of having sex that does not result in unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Choosing to use condoms is choosing to protect you and your partner.

The theme for International Condom Day this year is Always In Fashion. What does fashion have to do with condoms? Condoms are the most affordable way to avoid STI’s and unwanted pregnancy, and just like your own fashion choices, you can experiment with different types, shapes, colours, ribbing, and so on to find your own personal favourite style. Having good condom sense gives you the confidence to have fun.

Asking for consent, communicating with your sexual partner/s about their needs and preferences, and negotiating safe sex, shows that you respect their body, their boundaries and their decisions. It also means that any sexual activity, from kissing to penetration, can be relaxed and more pleasurable for you both. It’s #AlwaysInFashion to #ExpectRespect!

If you are unclear about consent – how to be sure your partner has consented, what exactly you are consenting to, whether consent lasts an hour or a lifetime – check this video on Tea and Consent!

 

Here are some questions and answers about the international condom day and condoms in general that you might find helpful to share.

What do you intend to achieve on this day?

We hope to increase public awareness on safer sex and its benefits, promote condom use and educate the public on the proper use of condoms.

So, why are you promoting condom use?

The fact is that using a condom makes sex 10,000 times safer than not using a condom. Some studies have also shown that condom-use prolongs erections, debunking the myth that condoms reduce sexual pleasure.

Why are we seeing such a declining trend in condom use?

At the individual level condoms remain unsexy. Many men won’t use them because they believe they reduce sexual pleasure and many women are afraid to ask their partners to use them for fear of being called a slut and possibly facing violence. This is coupled with low personal risk perception in long term relations which is key driver of HIV.

Are condoms really effective?

If used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective. They act as a barrier to prevent partners coming into contact with each other’s sexual secretions.

I am told that some condoms burst during intercourse. What may cause condoms to burst?

Condom bursting may be due to:

  • Friction caused by lack of foreplay
  • Incorrect use such as failure to squeeze the air out of the tip when putting the condom on to create space for the semen
  • Using the wrong lubrication, i.e. Vaseline or other oil-based products, which weakens the latex

Is it necessary to use condoms when one is HIV positive?

  • Yes, even when both the partners are infected, to avoid re-infection. Everyone’s virus is slightly different, using people’s own DNA to replicate. Re-infection adds strain on the immune system, weakening it.
  • If one partner is negative and the other positive, it is important to maintain condom use to ensure that the HIV negative partner does not contract the virus.

Why do some people develop irritations when they use condoms?

Some people are allergic to the latex from which condoms are made. However, in circumstances where irritation continues seek medical attention or access condoms which are made of other materials such as polyurethane (plastic)

What should you do if a condom remains in a woman’s vagina after sex?

You can avoid this situation by withdrawing immediately after ejaculating, before the penis becomes flaccid. If it does happen, don’t panic. Ask the person to squat with knees wide apart, insert two fingers and pull out the condom. Don’t worry; it will not affect your partner’s health. You or your partner can remove it easily with your fingers.

Does using two condoms at the same time provide double protection?

No. One condom if used correctly is enough to provide you with adequate protection.

Does using both a male and female condom at the same time provide more protection?

No. A couple can decide to use either a male or female condom but not both at the same time. The friction between the two rubber surfaces can lead to damage.

Is it okay to apply Vaseline on a condom for lubrication?

No. Vaseline and other oil-based lubricants such as baby oil weaken the rubber and cause the condom to tear. You must choose a water-based lubricant.

Can a condom be ineffective before its expiry date?

Yes. Depending on how it is handled/ stored, a condom can lose its effectiveness before the expiry date if stored in hot or damp place or exposed to direct sunlight. Make sure you don’t keep condoms in your wallet.

Can an expired condom offer protection if doubled?

No. Condoms lose their effectiveness three years from the printed date of manufacture.

Do condoms cause cancer?

No. There is no scientific evidence linking cancer to condom use.

Can one condom be used more than once?

No. A condom should be used once and disposed of.

Can a condom fit small and big penis sizes?

Yes. A condom has the capacity to expand and fit all sizes for adult sexually active persons. Men with large penises might find larger condoms more comfortable.

For how long can one condom be used in a sexual intercourse?

A condom remains effective for one round of sex.

Can one get infected with STIs/HIV during the process of removing a condom after a sexual intercourse?

It is possible for infection to occur if you have wounds or sores on your fingers which might come into contact with sexual fluids or if one cleaning cloth is used for both partners.

Is it true that some people get infected with STIs in spite of using condoms consistently?

Using a condom correctly and consistently protects from most sexually transmitted infections. It is possible to be infected during other sex acts such as oral sex. You can also be infected with some STIs through contact with infected blood.

What should a person do when a partner objects to condom use?

Ideally, be assertive and say “No condom no sex!” Try to educate your partner on the great benefits of condom use, such as prolonged erection.

Should married couples also use condoms?

Yes for several reasons. People may not be aware of each other’s HIV status; one of the partners might be cheating. Condom usage is encouraged in couples that are sero-discordant and condoms are also an excellent form of birth control for couples who want to have children but wish to space out their pregnancies.

Why do some condoms have a bad smell?

The bad smell may be due to chemical compounds which were not washed out during the production process. Some condoms have a rubber-like smell unless they are scented.

Which is the best condom to use?

Which is the best soap to use if you need to get clean? ALL condoms distributed by the Department of Health and HIV organisations are effective. Make sure they have not expired by checking the date stamp before use. There are lots of brands available so try a few to work out which ones you prefer.

Do condoms make sex less pleasurable?

No. In fact many people report feeling freer and more relaxed during sex because they aren’t worrying about infection. There is also the added benefit of prolonged erection for many men. Used properly and consistently, condoms can actually increase sexual pleasure.

 

Male condoms (external condoms)

During sex, male condoms are worn on the penis to prevent semen (sperm) entering the partner’s body through the vagina, mouth or anus when the man ejaculates (comes).

The condom should be put on when the penis is erect (hard) and before it comes into contact with your partner’s body.

To use a male condom correctly, follow these steps:

  • Carefully open the foil packaging that the condom is wrapped in, taking care not to tear the condom.
  • Hold the tip of the condom between your forefinger and thumb to make sure it’s put on the right way round and no air is trapped inside (the condom may split if air is trapped inside).
  • Place the condom over the tip of the penis.
  • While squeezing the tip of the condom, roll it down over the length of the erect penis.
  • If the condom will not unroll, it’s probably on inside out – start again with a new condom as there may be sperm on it.

Make sure that the condom stays in place while you’re having sex. If it comes off, stop and put on a new one.

After ejaculation (when the man has come) and while the penis is still hard, hold the condom in place and carefully withdraw the penis from your partner’s body.

You should only take the condom off the penis when there’s no further contact with your partner’s body.

Wrap the used condom in a tissue and put it in the bin. You should never flush condoms down the toilet as they may block the toilet and can cause environmental damage.

Female condoms (internal condoms)

Female condoms allow women to have more control over contraception before having sex with their partner.

Female condoms are inserted in the vagina and can be put in place at any time before sex, but must always be inserted before the penis touches the genital area.

To use a female condom, follow these steps:

  • Carefully remove the female condom from its packaging, taking care not to tear it.
  • Place the closed end of the condom into the vagina, holding the soft inner ring between your forefinger or middle finger and thumb.
  • Use your other hand to separate the folds of skin (labia) around the vagina, then put the squeezed ring into the vagina.
  • Put your index or middle finger or both in the open end of the condom until the inner ring can be felt and push the condom as far up the vagina as possible, with the outer ring lying against the outside of the vagina.
  • The outer ring of the condom should rest closely on the outside of the vagina at all times during sex – if the outer ring gets pushed inside the vagina, stop and put it back in the right place.
  • Make sure that the penis goes in the condom – take care to make sure that the penis does not go between the condom and the wall of the vagina.

Immediately after sex, slightly twist and pull the end of the condom to remove it, taking care not to spill any sperm inside the vagina.

If this happens, you’ll need to seek advice about emergency contraception from your GP or pharmacist.

Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it away in a bin, not in the toilet.