Few methods are as effective as a barrier method. Of them, the condom is top dog. Used correctly, condoms are good at preventing unwanted pregnancy and STDs. The latter is particularly important, as these infections are at elevated levels and the trend is still moving upward. Despite all of this, only one-third of Americans are using condoms today when they have sex, according to a recent report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. In long-term, monogamous relationships, many couples are turning toward hormonal birth control to avoid pregnancy. It may be a more effective way. But it doesn’t do anything to prevent the spread of STDs. For this report, researchers combed through data from the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth, for the years 2011-2015. They compared these with findings from the same survey from 2002 and again for the period covering 2006-2012. Respondents included both men and women, ages 15 to 44.
11,300 women and over 9,300 men took part in the 2011-2015 survey. Around 24% of the former and 34% of the latter reported condom use the last time they had sex. With men, use actually increased four percent. Another 25% of women and 33% of men said they combined condoms with another method, generally a hormonal one. Among those who did rely on condoms, 56% of men and 60% of women claimed it was their only recourse. Although condom usage is pretty small overall, there were some positive findings. Their sales haven’t gone down over recent years. If anything, it’s up slightly. Still, researchers would like to see it much higher, particularly for younger people who are the most susceptible to sexually transmitted infections. Researchers believe more education and a renewed public health campaign could increase condom usage. Besides protecting yourself, periodic testing is also recommended. If it’s been over 12 months since your last screening, see a doctor or urologist and get checked out.