Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Condom Tests: The Results Are In

People who push for abstinence-only education often like to talk about the failure rates of condoms; you might remember Bill Frist sorta being caught exaggerating about this on a TV show a month or so ago. Basically there are two reasons that condoms have a nonzero failure rate: people don't use them correctly, and sometimes they break.

Well, as we know, the first of those two problems can be largely alleviated through education, for instance you could show teenagers how to put a condom on, oh, a cucumber or something. Give them a little instruction on how it works, when and how to put it on, when and how to take it off...

Now, it turns out that education can help with the second problem as well, or at least make it less likely that the thing will break. You can read about the testing that was done with the various brands of condoms, and pick the best one -- that would be the Durex Extra Sensitive Lubricated Latex.
The consumers group best known for rating cars and washing machines has turned its testing prowess to condoms to find out which ones measure up best and how other birth control methods compare.

The nonprofit Consumers Union says in a new guide to contraception that the seven top U.S. types of condom they studied did not burst despite vigorous testing, and all models met international standards.

But results showed that the top brand, able to take the most punishment, was the Durex Extra Sensitive Lubricated Latex, according to the report.

Other top-performers include the Durex Performax Lubricated, Lifestyles Classic Collection Ultra Sensitive Lubricated and TheyFit Lubricated.

A melon-colored model distributed by Planned Parenthood performed the worst, bursting during a test in which the latex condoms were filled with air.

The group says its review of contraceptives was not politically motivated, although there is an intense debate among health professionals and advocacy groups about the focus on abstinence-only education by the Bush administration. Condom Testing Reveals Best Brands

Well, it's not good that Planned Parenthood is giving out puny ones, I hope they do something about that. "Unplanned Parenthood" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

I had an interesting talk last year with a woman in a condom store in Denmark. She said (in perfect English, of course), "We know that our young people are going to be having sex, and we want them to do it safely." The store had free samples, and posters, and all kinds of interesting stuff, very clean and businesslike, not dirty -- it wasn't an "adult" store, but just something at the mall, not clinical, just direct. You gotta wonder, why is this an issue in the US?


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