National Condom Week kicks off on Valentine's Day, get informed on safe sex practices

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While scrambling for last minute gifts at your nearby drugstore, don’t forget to pick up condoms before your Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Valentine’s Day kicks off National Condom Week. With its roots at University of California, Berkeley in the 1970s, National Condom Week has developed into a nationwide advocacy event to promote sexual health and safe sex.

The truth is, finding the perfect condom that both you and your partner like is not always easy. You can order a condom sampler from sites such as Babeland and Good Vibrations in order to find your condom soulmate. Or, for those of you who are more practical, make sure to visit the Health Promotion Resource Center (SSB 1.106) on campus to get your three free condoms a day. 

When it comes to opinions about condoms, Zachary Caballero, history and English junior, said, “Condoms are a necessary evil, much like brushing your teeth every morning. If you don’t do it, you’re going to have some unwanted, unexpected and unplanned cavities. And by cavities, I mean babies. Lots of babies.”

Of course, condoms are only effective at reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections if used consistently and correctly.

In a study published February 2012 in the journal Sexual Health, researchers at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University pulled together 16 years of research on condom errors and failures dating back to 1995. 

The study found condom-use errors — such as not leaving room at the tip of the condom for semen to collect, putting the condom on in the middle of sex or not knowing oil-based lubricants degrade latex condoms — are alarmingly common. 

A Condom Week special by the Daily Mail explored how far we have come since the days of sheepskin and later embellished, linen condoms.

“Condoms in the 1850s were as thick as bicycle tires and they smelled of sulfur,” Debra Herbenick, research scientist and associate director at The Kinsey Institute, said.

And if you’re still not convinced modern condoms aren’t just about the most magnificent human achievement because you say condoms deplete sexual pleasure, consider that a study published January 2013 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found both men and women found sex pleasurable with or without condoms or lubrication. 

“Condoms are great! Don’t think of them as an inconvenience, think of them more as an investment in your future. A future without STIs and a surprise baby shower,” Alexander Limas, Human Development and Family Sciences senior, said. 

On Valentine’s Day and all days after, remember, never shame or feel ashamed about taking charge of your sexual health. While discussing sexual health with college students, I often hear girls claim it is “slutty” for girls to carry condoms.

Let’s get this straight: Just because, as a female, my purses, cupboards and drawers burst with condoms and little packets of on-the-go lube does not mean I want sex all times of all day. It means I am prepared when I do.

As a former healthy sexuality peer educator, I learned the very critical and scientific distance at which your condoms and lube should be at all times: arm’s length. It does you no justice if your condoms are in your night stand and you’re having sex in the shower; it does you no justice if your condoms are in your kitchen cupboard and you’re having sex at South By Southwest. 

Published on February 13, 2013 as "National Condom Week promotes sexual health".