In the year of using condoms not how they were intended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) felt compelled to raise public awareness about why they exist in the first place and remind people how they should actually be used. Given that the condom challenge was a thing earlier this year where people filmed themselves as they snorted condoms through their nose and pulled them out of their mouth for the purpose of more likes on social media, health officials deemed it necessary to remind us that condoms can only prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy when correctly placed on the penis (while unexpired, new for single use and not tampered with by washing).
Look no further than their recent tweets
So it seems people are trying to extend the life of a condom beyond its one-time use by washing them out which actually defeats their primary purpose. Additionally, ignoring the expiration date does a disservice to the condom's chance for success.
On the CDC's formal website, they go on to state
"Correctly using male condoms and other barriers like female condoms and dental dams, every time, can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis. They can also provide protection against other diseases that may be transmitted through sex like Zika and Ebola. Using male and female condoms correctly, every time, can also help prevent pregnancy."
Their literature further includes infographics that go through dos and don'ts like never reusing a condom and never using baby or cooking oil for lubrication. The publications are quite thorough and clear.
So, why the inability to follow directions? Is laundering your condoms another, hopefully, fleeting fad? Is buying new condoms for each use a financial strain? Intentional, unintentional injury poses a hefty health care burden along with a great deal of suffering for those involved. It appears to be part of human nature to test limits and be creative about the ways we inadvertently harm ourselves. Education campaigns are certainly worth the effort, but they have an uphill battle to climb.
Consider the many bad ideas that abound like the Tide Pod Challenge and the adverse effects of competitive eating discussed here. Or, the countless foreign body insertions that wreak havoc on the body (review my Inanimate Objects in Orifices series eyes, ear/nose/throat, penis, vagina, anus and rectum and Animate Objects in Orifices: The Airway). If you weren’t taken aback by the coaxial cable voluntary urethral insertion described here, then news out of China regarding the potentially fatal consequence of a man lodging a reported stainless-steel chopstick in his penis will be of minimal surprise. Nor will you find it a shock that my article Stuff Not To Do With Your Penis is among my ten most popular.
Though the CDC's alerts appear to many to be obvious this time around, it is important to remember if it weren't an issue then it wouldn't need such social media promotion.