Facts about Condoms

You may have heard people say, “Use a condom every time you have sex.” Reading that, you might think that condoms make sex safe, that they solve all problems. Unfortunately, research shows that’s not the case. Condoms don’t make sex safe, they just make sex less risky.

Condoms used to prevent pregnancy fail in about 14% of couples during the first year of use. Even if you use a condom every single time you have sex, condoms only reduce the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. They don’t eliminate that risk.

Condoms also have some shortcomings. Besides being able to break, fall off, or have a hole in them, condoms only cover the penis. This mean that any of the STDs that can be spread by skin-on-skin contact can be contracted if the infection is in an area the condom doesn’t cover. So, in this situation condoms do not provide STD protection.

Condoms will also never protect your heart. Read more about the effect of sex on your emotions here.

Here are some statistics about condom effectiveness:

Condoms and Pregnancy – of 100 couples using condoms, how many would become pregnant in one year?

  • 15.8% – Jones and Forest, Family Planning Perspectives, Jan/Feb 1992
  • 12.0% – Cates and Stone, Family Planning Perspectives, Mar/Apr 1992
  • 12.0-21.0% – Hatcher, et al, Contraceptive Technology, 16th edition, 1994

Condoms and Chlamydia – Infection rate at Rutgers University – Samuels, Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, December 1989, p. 16

  • Diaphragm Users 44.0%, Condom Users 35.7%
  • No Contraception at all 44.0%, Oral Contraception 37.0%

Condoms and Aids – Married couples, one with HIV, they used condoms

  • 18% HIV positive in 18 months – Riechl, et al, International Conference On Aids, June 1987, Abstracts Volume, p. 178
  • 30% of their partners had HIV within 2 years – Fischel, et al, Journal of School Health, May 1994
  • 18 to 54% Failure rate – Weller, Social Science and Medicine, June 1993
  • AIDS Virus 450 times smaller than sperm cell

Condoms and Teens

  • 36% failure rate – Jones & Forrest, Family Planning Perspectives, May/Jun 1989

Problems with Condoms

  • 3 to 4 holes per 1000 allowed by FDA
  • 1.7% breakage during intercourse, 6.2% slip off during intercourse, 6.7% slip off during withdrawal – Trussel, et al, Family Planning Perspectives, Jan 1992

Condom Usage – A Study of 15 to 19 years olds

Condom Use


STD Prevention



50 – 60%



8 – 9%