Common Misconceptions About Condom Use
June 29, 2001
A study in the May issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health examined the prevalence of three misconceptions about correct condom use and whether the prevalence of these misconceptions varied by gender, sexual intercourse experience, and condom use.
Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) was analyzed to determine prevalence of misconceptions among 16,667 adolescents 15 to 21 years of age who completed in-home interviews between April and December 1995.
To determine the prevalence of misconceptions about correct condom use and to assess the associations between these misconceptions, participants were divided into three groups: adolescents who had ever had sexual intercourse and had used condoms at least once, adolescents who had ever had sexual intercourse and had never used condoms, and adolescents who had never had sexual intercourse.
Misconceptions About Condom UseParticipants were asked to identify the following statements as "true," or "false."
"When putting on a condom, it is important to have it fit tightly, leaving no space at the tip."
"Vaseline can be used with condoms, and they will work just at well."
"Natural skin (lambskin) condoms provide better protection against the AIDS virus then latex condoms."
Researchers also examined the relationship between adolescents' actual and perceived knowledge about correct condom use. Perception of knowledge about correct condom use was not associated with actual knowledge.
The study's findings suggest that many sexuality and HIV/STD education programs provided to adolescents, particularly school-based programs, are not adequately addressing correct condom-use procedures. The authors note that programs that address correct condom use may be optional, thus reaching fewer adolescents.
The authors recommend that in order for young people to protect themselves adequately from STD/HIV and pregnancy, they need complete prevention information. They go on to say that educators should not only inform students of the value of condom use in preventing STDs and pregnancy but that they should give correct use information as well.
For more information: R.E. Crosby and W.L. Yarber, "Perceived versus Actual Knowledge about Correct Condom Use among U.S. Adolescents: Results from a National Study," Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 415-20.
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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.