HomeOpinion & AnalysisFacts and myths surrounding the use of condoms

Facts and myths surrounding the use of condoms

A lot has been said concerning condom use. In the mid-90s the famous comedian in the drama named after himself, Paraffin, replicated the reality when he fiercely warned Mai Sorobi against accepting condoms when they visited a local clinic.


Myths surrounding condoms have been in existence for years, through to this day.

Initially it was taboo to be seen or be suspected to be using one, let alone to be in possession of a condom.

But the fact remains, condoms are a safe contraceptive method and are useful in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

For every fact that is known about condoms, there are as many myths and misperceptions that are impediments to the sustainable use of condoms, especially in third world countries.

About eight to 10 billion condoms are currently used in low and middle-income countries, but this represents only half of the condoms needed every year to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

There are so many gaps that should be covered in a bid to correct wrong beliefs about the use of condoms and information on condoms is part of any comprehensive sexuality education.

Having conversations about condoms and providing them to the public does not increase sexual activity, but this makes sex safer.

In African communities, people still discuss whether condoms reduce sexual sensitivity or not.

The topic sounds interesting when one can pay particular attention to the ghetto youths as they agree with each other in Ndebele and Shona vernacular language “isiwiji asidlelwa ephepheni mfoe, mungadyira sweet mupepa mdara, hazviko” (you can’t chew the sweat together with its package).

However, the fact is, condoms do not reduce sexual pleasure and sex is a psychological issue. What you think is what you get.

Ironically, nothing disappears like condoms when they are placed in male restrooms. There are very few instances where one can hear people boldly speaking about buying condoms or getting them for free.

So which is which? Why is the environment so littered with condom packages or sometimes used condoms? Food for thought.

Have you ever noticed how women find it difficult to buy condoms?

Or even to suggest or demand use? Even some men are not comfortable purchasing them.

I have observed grown-up men rolling up and down in a supermarket, hesitating to grab a packet of condoms, for their own use.

Buying of condoms has always been a gender issue and there are very few instances where women can be seen buying condoms.

Well, they fear to be labelled with different names, but this is for the benefit of the whole community.

What people must know is that condoms are not an indicator of sexual promiscuity by people who use them, but just a form of protection.

Only the myopic-minded still believe and associate condoms with sexual promiscuity.

Condoms are not only for men, because female condoms are just as effective and safe as the male condoms.

Both men and women have a belief that condoms are for males only and very few women can use their own condoms which makes them to be at high risk of contracting STIs.

Use of female condoms can be a wonderful option for women who have trouble convincing their partners to use a male condom since they can be inserted hours prior to intercourse and give women flexibility and control over their sexual and reproductive health without having to rely on their partner.

It is more common in developed countries than in Africa to see photos of men carrying condoms in queues at selling points in supermarkets circulating on social media.

It seems funny how they try to play hide-and-seek before reaching the till point.

It is without dispute that all men would want to assess their performance after every sexual encounter based on the amount of time taken during the play.

Some feel ashamed and less confident after a bad performance, especially when meeting a woman for the first time, but is it some kind of condom-associated erection problem?

Do condoms cause erectile dysfunction? Some research findings say around 14% of men tend to lose their erection while putting the condom on, and 16% had problems during intercourse itself and nearly a third had erection problems in both these scenarios.

For this reason, there are so many instances where men have sacrificed not to use condoms after an “eye scan” to their partners in order to improve their performance during the act, but the million-dollar question is: does it work?

The chorus “one size fits all” is either a fact or a myth that has become a very sensitive topic of which few men are not so comfortable to discuss.

Is it about the size of a penis or just a difficult topic?

Some say that condoms are too tight or too short, but some literature reviews say 10% of men reported that condoms felt too loose and 7% reported that condoms felt too long during sexual intercourse.

However, condoms come in many shapes and sizes and barely can one can struggle to find the right size and the majority does not bother to check the size, flavour neither the brand over the counter.

Truly speaking, the name “condom” is difficult to pronounce over the counter as the ghetto youth say “ndipoo majombo” pointing out to the shelf with one hand in the pocket while their eyes are glued on their phones.

This can be tricky, but using them will help people to have a better and safer sex life.

Using two condoms simultaneously increases friction and can cause one or both condoms to tear or break, some say it produces an irritating friction sound.

Having back-up condoms during sexual intercourse is a smart option in the event that the condom breaks or initially put on incorrectly or slips off during intercourse and if both partners wish to have sex again.

One condom is enough to prevent pregnancy and STIs when used correctly, it is a false belief to think that using more than one condom during sexual intercourse is more effective and prevents breakage.

People should be reminded that condoms are not 100% effective in HIV or pregnancy prevention, there are chances that they may not work as expected.

  • Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his personal capacity. For feedback email: evanngoe@gmail.com or call 0719770038 and Twitter @EvansMathanda19.

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