Here are answers to those sometimes embarrassing questions about STIs, sexual health, and condoms. If you are concerned about your sexual health, discusss with your physician.
QUESTIONS ABOUT STIs
What is an STI?
STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. These diseases are sometimes known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). An STI is any infection that is passed by body fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex. These fluids include semen (cum), vaginal fluids (the wetness in the vagina) and blood. A latex condom acts as a barrier to prevent these fluids from being exchanged. But, an STI can also be spread by contact with the skin of the genital or anal area if infection is present. It can also be spread by contact inside of the mouth.
Am I at risk for STIs?
If you are sexually active you may be at risk for STIs. Remember, when you have sex with someone, you are exposed to everyone they have had sex with before you.
What are some common STIs?
Some common STIs are HIV infection (AIDS), syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus infection (HPV), genital herpes and hepatitis B. While most STIs can be treated, many cannot be cured. They stay with you for your whole life.
What are some common symptoms of STIs?
Some STIs have no symptoms at all. Others appear and then disappear, while the infection remains. So you cannot always rely on symptoms to show that you have become infected. Some common symptoms to be aware of are: pain or burning while urinating, rashes, sores, blisters, itchiness, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and pain during sex. If you think you might be infected with an STI, see a doctor or healthcare provider ASAP. Delaying treatment can cause the infection to get worse!
What can I do to protect myself from STIs?
The only way to be 100% safe from STIs and HIV/AIDS is to abstain from all sexual activities. If you are going to have sex, the correct and consistent use of latex condoms can help protect you from many STIs, including HIV/AIDS. Latex condoms also help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy. You can’t tell if someone is infected just by looking at them. Even if you’re very close your partner may not know they have an STI -- or they may be too embarrassed to tell you. It’s up to you to protect yourself.
Do latex condoms work to protect me from STIs and pregnancy?
YES. Latex condoms block the smallest organisms and even large particles like sperm. They help to prevent most major STIs. A few STIs, such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and syphilis, can sometimes infect places on the body not protected by condoms. If you or your partner notice sores in the genital area, you should not have sex. Call your doctor or health care provider for an exam immediately.
Am I at risk of getting HIV/AIDS?
Young people are especially at risk! About one half (50%) of all new HIV infections happen to people under the age of 25. Studies show that about one third (33%) of all people with HIV/AIDS haven’t even been tested so your partner may not even know that they have it.
QUESTIONS ABOUT CONDOM USAGE
Do I need to use a condom for anal sex?
You should use a condom for every sex act, including anal sex. The skin in the anal passage is very fragile and can tear. STIs can be easily spread through anal sex. In fact, anal sex is the riskiest form of sex for getting HIV/AIDS. Condoms can protect you during anal sex. Using a water or silicone-based lubricant will help reduce the risk of a latex condom breaking. However, a condom with spermicidal lubricant should not be used during anal sex.
How should I store condoms?
Keep your condoms in a cool, dry place. Storing them near heat (in your glove compartment) can cause them to become brittle or gummy and not be any good to use.
How can I tell if a condom is damaged?
Damaged packaging is one way to tell. Another is to look at the condom and feel it before you put it on. You can also check it when it is on the erect penis. A condom that sticks to itself, is gummy or brittle, isn’t the same color all over, or has tears or holes shouldn’t be used. Unrolling the condom or filling it with air or water to check it can also damage the condom.
Should condoms be used for oral sex?
YES. Many people mistakenly believe oral sex is a way to practice safe sex, but it’s not. STIs can be spread during oral sex. To be safe, you should use a condom if the penis is going to touch the mouth. Be sure to use a condom that’s labeled effective against STIs. If your mouth touches the outside or inside of your partner’s vagina (cunnilingus) or anus (anilingus), you can reduce your risk of getting an STI by placing a barrier (sometimes called a "Dental Dam") over the vagina or anus.
What is spermicidal lubricant designed for?
Some condoms contain the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 (N-9). N-9 has been proven to kill sperm and/or reduce its motility. N-9 is an important backup to help reduce the risk of pregnancy in case a condom is not used properly during vaginal intercourse and erection is lost before withdrawal and some semen spills outside the condom. N-9 does not provide any protection against HIV/AIDS or other STIs; it is a spermicide only. Also, spermicidal lubricants are not for rectal use or more than once a day vaginal use. Nonoxynol-9 may be irritating to some people, especially with use more than once a day, and vaginal irritation can increase the risk of STDs or AIDS.
QUESTIONS ABOUT TROJAN™ CONDOMS
Can TROJAN™ condoms be used with massage oil, baby oil, petroleum jelly, etc.?
NO. Oil can destroy the condom. To prevent damage to the condom, only water or silicone-based personal lubricants should be used with latex condoms.
Are TROJAN™ condoms available in different sizes?
MAGNUM™ condoms are 15% larger than standard condoms. MAGNUM™ XL Lubricated Condoms are 30% larger than standard condoms.
Copyright 2006, Church & Dwight Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.