This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
National Condom Week takes place during the same week as Valentine’s Day. This year, it’s the week of Feb. 13-20. National Condom Week provides a great opportunity to discuss condom use with your partner(s). Using memorable slogans like “Wrap it up!” and “No glove, no love,” National Condom Week seeks to educate sexually active young adults about how to properly use condoms to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections. The observance was started on a college campus, but has grown into a nationwide event involving schools, family planning organizations, health agencies, and awareness groups.
Using condoms during sexual intercourse is an important way to help protect your health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported increases in the rates of the sexually transmitted infections chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. If your primary concern when having sex is birth control, using condoms is still a great idea, even if you’re using another birth control method. No birth control method except condoms can help protect you against diseases including Zika and HIV.
To be as effective as possible, condoms must be used consistently and correctly. This means you should use a condom with every partner, every time. Here are a few “dos” and “donts” about condom use from the CDC:
DO use a condom every time you have sex.
DO put on a condom before having sex.
DO read the package and check the expiration date.
DO make sure there are no tears or defects.
DO store condoms in a cool, dry place.
DO use latex or polyurethane condoms.
DO use water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage.
DON’T store condoms in your wallet as heat and friction can damage them.
DON’T use nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), as this can cause irritation.
DON’T use oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they’ll cause the condom to break.
DON’T use more than one condom at a time.
DON’T reuse a condom.
While condoms — used consistently and correctly — are a great way to reduce your STD risk, the most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Make sure you and your partner both get tested for STDs, since many people who have an STD have no symptoms and don’t know they’re infected.
Carson City Health and Human Services distributes free condoms all year long. Safe Sex Kits are available at the clinic at our 900 E. Long St. location in Carson City. The Health Department also offers affordable STD testing, and recommends anyone who’s sexually active gets tested at least once each year.
To learn about safer sex and National Condom Month, visit the American Sexual Health Association at www.ashasexualhealth.org. For information about other Health Department services, visit www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.