How effective are condoms in teens?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Condoms reduce the risk of STIs but are only 85 percent safe in terms of reducing the risk of pregnancy. If a condom does not break and is used 100 percent of the time, it is 100 percent effective. The problem is not with the condom, but with the consistency of using the condom. Occasionally they tear; more often, they are not used correctly.

So we recommend that couples having heterosexual sex use dual protection: a condom and one other method of contraception. This insures that both male and female take responsibility for preventing pregnancy and STIs. For those with latex allergy, try polyurethane condoms; they may break slightly more easily but they are just as safe against STIs as latex condoms.

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