Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Problem With Abstinence

Interesting wording in the King County (Washington) Public Health document How effective are condoms?:
No method of contraception or disease prevention is effective when practiced incorrectly or inconsistently. A 1988 National Survey of Family Growth found abstinence to have a contraceptive failure rate of 26% when not practiced consistently. So, in abstinence, as in condom use, consistency is key.

... and I'd thought they said abstinence was a sure thing. Go figure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the King County Public Health document. I found the following remarks very interesting too:

Condoms do not need to be 100% effective to be strongly promoted for two reasons: 1) at least 90% efficacy is significant protection; and 2) 100% efficacy is not now and has never been a criterion for promoting any safety device, (e.g. seatbelts, smoke alarms, helmets, or even vaccination).

Condoms are classified as medical devices and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Condom manufacturers in the United States test each latex condom for defects, including holes, before it is packaged. Several studies of correct and consistent condom use clearly show that condom breakage rates in this country are less than 2 percent. Even when condoms do break, one study showed that more than half of such breaks occurred prior to ejaculation.

Condoms help prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies and studies show that increasing availability of condoms through community campaigns and school availability programs does not increase sexual activity in targeted populations. Latex condoms are highly effective in preventing pregnancy and most sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, but only if they are used consistently and correctly.

A safety device that protects the public health as well as individuals is something we should gladly teach our high school students how to use, especially since we know that knowledge about condoms and even availability of them does not increase teen sexual activity.


August 17, 2005 1:01 PM  
Blogger Isabel Manuela said...

Jim said:
"... and I'd thought they said abstinence was a sure thing. Go figure."

Well, Jim, it is a sure thing, when used correctly, when used correctly, when used correctly... and consistently.

Remember the line from the "Protect Yourself" video, when the presenter voice keeps repeating " when used correctly, when used correctly, when used correctly."?

In prevention materials (I think from CDC, but not sure) they have this joke of a couple in a couch, ready to go a bit further, and it says: "Abstinence has a high failure rate."

August 17, 2005 9:41 PM  

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