A recent study found that adolescent girls who use condoms correctly are protected from common STDs. However, the findings show that just 16 percent of the young women used condoms properly. The study, led by Dr. Gabriela Paz-Bailey of CDC, found that teenage girls who consistently used condoms correctly were 60 percent less likely to contract chlamydia, and 90 percent less likely to have gonorrhea. The most common mistake teens make using condoms is to start sex without a condom, the authors said.
The report noted that nearly 19 million new STD cases occur annually in the United States alone. Half of those infected are ages 15-24.
During the study, 509 teenage girls attending an urban adolescent health clinic were tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and reported on their use of condoms. Twenty-one percent of the girls had chlamydia, and 7 percent had gonorrhea. Four percent had both infections, the investigators found.
More than 70 percent of participants who said they had used a condom at least once in the last three months said they had experienced condom errors -- starting sex without a condom, taking it off before finishing sex, breaking a condom, or having it slip off. About 35 percent of the girls reported they consistently used condoms.
"Although messages directed at adolescents should encourage delaying initiation of sexual activity, many are already sexually active, and STDs are particularly common among this group," the researchers found. "Thus, aggressive condom promotion must remain a key to reducing STDs and HIV."
Over 40 percent of teens who said they used condoms said they start sex without a condom and those teens were more likely to have chlamydia. "Both correctness and consistency of use is important" for condom effectiveness, the authors concluded.
The report, "The Effect of Correct and Consistent Condom Use on Chlamydial and Gonococcal Infection Among Urban Adolescents," appeared in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (2005;159(6):536-542).