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Consumer Reports Magazine Rates Durex Condoms Best, Planned Parenthood Condoms Worst in Performance Review

January 5, 2005

The not-for-profit group Consumers Union on Tuesday released a report published in the February issue of its Consumer Reports magazine on 17 contraceptive methods, including top U.S. brands of condoms that underwent "vigorous testing," Reuters reports. The group used "standardized tests" -- including filling condoms with air -- to rate the products it examined, according to Reuters. Durex Extra Sensitive Lubricated Latex scored the highest marks on strength and reliability, followed by Durex Performax Lubricated, Lifestyles Classic Collection Ultra Sensitive Lubricated and TheyFit Lubricated (Fox, Reuters, 1/4). Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Honeydew and Assorted Colors condoms scored the worst of the 23 condoms tested. The Honeydew condom, which scored "poor" ratings in strength and reliability, has since been redesigned, according to Long Island Newsday. The Assorted Colors condoms received "poor" marks for strength but "excellent" marks for reliability, according to Newsday. Planned Parenthood has resubmitted the Honeydew and Assorted Colors condoms -- as well as its Lollipop condom, which was ranked 14th -- for independent testing, and the condoms received "excellent results," according to Karen Pearl, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County in New York. Pearl "criticized" Consumers Union for performing only air-inflation tests, which she said favors thinner condoms, according to Newsday. However, Geoffry Martin, the magazine's director of consumer sciences, said that other tests, such as measuring water leakage, are not as useful, adding, "We have found that the air-bursting, air-pressure test is the one that will distinguish the truly strong from those that are less strong" (Phan, Long Island Newsday, 1/5).

Comparing Contraception
Consumer Reports also included a "Guide to Contraceptives," which discusses and charts 16 other contraceptive choices, including birth control pills, intrauterine devices and vasectomy (Consumer Reports, February 2005). The report says that IUDs, oral contraceptives and emergency contraception have become "safer than in previous years," according to Reuters. However, Consumers Union said in a statement that "[c]ondoms remain the only family planning and pregnancy prevention method that can help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, which causes AIDS" (Reuters, 1/4).

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