According to Cosmo's new study, only 30 percent of men and women used a condom the last time they had sex. For some, condoms represent a lack of sexual spontaneity and reduced pleasure. Many people believe that one form of birth control (such as if a female partner is on the pill) is enough, as it also works to prevent pregnancy.
Although many joke about refraining from using condoms, people's actions speak louder than their feigned satire. Cosmo points out that "thirty-three percent of respondents only use a condom when a partner insists." Very Well Health adds:
In truth, there are a number of intersecting reasons for the decreased use of condoms among adults and young people. They include everything from how we feel about condoms, what we believe about HIV, how we negotiate sex in relationships, how vulnerable we believe ourselves to be to infection....
Cosmo's Julie Vadnal reports that the No. 1 reason why adults aged 18-34 are not using condoms is because they aren't worried about STIs, yet "nearly 20 million Americans are projected to get an STI this year."
Clearly, there is a disconnect between what condoms are actually for and when you should use them (which is always). The results of this study demonstrate two things: many young people don't prioritize condoms and they have a false risk perception when it comes to sexually-transmitted diseases.
According to an August 2018 press release from the CDC:
'We are sliding backward,' said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. 'It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.'
And as Vadnal points out:
When used consistently and perfectly, [condoms] are highly effective, as you know, at protecting against pregnancy (with 98 percent-efficacy) and many sexually transmitted pathogens.
There's a dangerous disconnect between the public health experts and the everyday person.
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 62 percent of men don't mind using condoms, while 23 percent strongly dislike using condoms.
Among these statistics is one that is particularly illustrative: 24 percent of survey respondents say they "would rather watch porn alone than have sex wearing a condom."
Although condoms are widely used, perhaps a revised form of male birth control would be more effective. Nearly a quarter of respondents essentially hate using condoms, and another quarter points to just how much. These results demonstrate that many people see condoms as only a form of birth control, rather than a way to prevent disease.
Birth control is still a very valid reason to use a condom, but it isn't the only reason why a condom is necessary. As Spoon University points out:
[Condoms are] the only kind of contraceptive that prevents both pregnancy and STIs from occurring.
When used properly, condoms can protect against STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and HIV and AIDS. For example, Planned Parenthood reports that when it comes to HIV, using a condom is 10,000 times safer than not using one.
Symptoms of STIs and STDs might not be obvious to you before having sex, and if many people are likely to not use a condom at all, they surely are not likely to ask a partner to get tested for diseases before the moment strikes. Even if the symptoms are not noticeable, a disease could still be infectious. Condoms are the only way to protect yourself.