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AFRO-NETS> Condom breakage & failure

Condom breakage & failure

Condom Failure, Breakage, User Failure; STD Prevention or Delayed In-

by R. Tyler on 06/06/99

The June 1999 issue of Consumer Reports had an article entitled "Con-
doms get better":

This is a much more objective source than the CDC with its sociopoli-
tical bias and agenda. The article led me to the following conclu-

According to the article, the manufacturers make a legitimate effort 
to prevent ineffective condoms from getting out to the consumers. On 
the assembly line a charged metal form is inserted into each condom. 
If there are any holes in the condom, sparks fly and the condom is 
trashed. But think about it. A good condom can be inflated with 16 
liters (almost 4 gallons) of air and not leak, and that means condoms 
have a great stretching capacity. The Consumer Report maintains that 
a 25 liter (6 gallons) inflation mark is crucial in the prediction of 
condom failure during usage. 

The article states that even with correct use of the condom, 2 con-
doms per 100 condoms will break. "And oral, anal, or very vigorous 
vaginal sex can hasten breakage." 1 condom per 100 condoms will slip 
off during use. 

This figure is supported by other sources:
"Condom breakage rates are low in the United States, no higher than 2 
per 100 condoms used. Most cases of condom failure probably result 
from incorrect or inconsistent use."
His Health, by Dr. Ken Goldberg: "about 15 percent of couples who use 
condoms for birth control get pregnant within the first year, and 
only about 2 percent of those failures are the result of breakage."
"Condoms made of latex or polyurethane can help reduce the likelihood 
of STD's, but even these sometimes allow the transmission of disease; 
2-6% of condoms break or fall off during intercourse, and a condom 
can break even if you use it perfectly. In fact, one in three AIDS 
victims will contract the disease from an infected partner despite 
100% use of male condoms."

2 out of every 100 condoms breaking sounds pretty good, doesn't it? 
Let's look at it in terms of human life, people.

* Condom failure (slipping off, breaking etc.) during correct use:
- 2 of every 100 condoms fail
- 20,000 of every 1 million condoms fail
- 500,000 of 25 million condoms fail

* Mothers, sisters, daughters; dads, brothers and sons; husbands, 
wives and sweethearts; and grandparents and grandchildren were ex-
posed to STD's when their condoms broke or slipped of during 500,000 
of 25 million condom uses. "Too little lubricant, and the condom 
might break during sex; too much, and it might slip off."

2 of 100 is 1 of 50. The average testosterone male aged 12 through 25 
would like to and usually does his best to have sexual relations 
three times a week, such an average sexually active male will have 
had sexual relations 50 times within seventeen weeks, three times a 
year. Those facts yield the tragic statistical fact that such a sexu-
ally active young person could be infected with HIV three times a 
year (1 condom failure per 50 condoms). Condoms didn't prevent 
HIV/HCV/HPV infection for such a young person, statistical averages 
indicate it only delayed infection for up to ten weeks. Given the 
fact that young HIV victims in the developing nations are dying 8 to 
9 years after infection, condom use only delayed the death of that 
young person up to seventeen weeks.

The prostitute who faithfully uses condoms, doing 6 sex jobs a day/ 
night, five days/nights a week, uses 30 condoms a week. If her con-
doms failed to protect her at the same rate the condoms tested by 
Consumer Reports failed in their tests, then statistical averages in-
dicate she would have been exposed to STDs once every two weeks due 
to the 1 condoms per 50 condom failure rate. Condoms didn't prevent 
STD infection. They just delayed her infection by less than 2 weeks, 
statistically, and she and her clients will still die in eight to 
nine years.

Are you prepared to use a heart pacemaker that has a failure rate of 
1 out of every 50? Are you prepared to use elevators that have a 1 in 
50 failure rate? Are you prepared to sit in a folding chair that has 
a 1 in 50 failure rate?

The article states that two brands of every thirty brands tested con-
dom products failed their inflation tests that year. When the two 
brands that failed were repeatedly tested, "4 out of 120 condoms 
broke at too low a volume." That averages out to 1 condom per 30 

Are you prepared to fly with an airline that fails to complete 1 out 
of every 30 scheduled flights? Are you prepared to sail with a cruise 
line that fails to complete 1 out of every 30 scheduled cruises? Are 
you prepared to ride in your car on a tire product that has a 1 in 30 
failure rate?

With a failure rate of 1 condom failure per 30 condom tested (4 per 
120), the young man described above would have become STD exposed 
within ten weeks, or 5+ times per year, and the prostitute described 
above would be STD exposed within a week, or 52 times per year. Con-
doms didn't even save their lives for one year.

The article states that the state of Maryland gave condoms to certain 
middle and high schools in Baltimore and they were tested that year 
with the minimal 16 liter inflation test. When one brand was tested 
that year, 7 of 120 could not even pass the 25 liter test. An insig-
nificant failure rate? Put it in terms of sons, daughters, grandson, 
granddaughters, nephews, nieces, uncles and aunts, and you see what a 
5% failure rate means.

* Five per 100 breaks/failures
- 5 condom failures - per 100 condoms tested
- 50,000 condom failures - per one million tested
* 50,000 young people possibly exposed to deadly viral STD's due to
  condom failure

How would you like to be one of those 50,000 young people? What if 
one of those young people were your son, daughter, grandson, grand-
daughters, nephews or niece? We are dealing with lives, not just per-

With a failure rate of 1 condom failure per 20 condom tested (5 per 
100), the young man described above would have become STD exposed 
within 8 weeks, or 6.5 times per year, and the prostitute would be 
STD exposed within four days, or 91 times per year. Condoms didn't 
even save their lives for one year.

Would you want to be a operated on by a surgeon who has a track re-
cord of failing 1 of 20 of his surgeries? Would you want to cross a 
bridge that is known to collapse once every 20 weeks? Would you use a 
parachute made by a company that makes parachutes with a 1 of 20 
failure rate?

There is even a problem with quality control and truth in labeling. 
The article indicates that the FDA mandated expiration date on con-
doms can't be relied on. Ideally non-spermicide condoms are okay for 
five years from the date of manufacture. The article indicates that 
some of the five year old condoms (from 1995) they tested that year 
failed their inflation test, and to warn users to carefully observe 
expiration dates, and to not use condoms that have become "sticky or 
brittle" even though they have not reached their expiration date. 

I would consider it to an exceptional and remarkable couple that 
could take the time to carefully examine a condom for stickiness and 
brittleness in the heat of passion as she is there before him in all 
the glorious beauty of her femininity and he has the roaring and ex-
ploding forces of testosterone and adrenalin raging through his heart 
and mind. This is user condom failure.

The article states that skin condoms do not provide protection 
against viral STD's; that polyurethane condoms and female condoms 
have not been sufficiently studied to provide a report on their ef-

I stand on my statements. In the 1990's I was personally told by the 
Health Dept. Doctor who was drawing my blood for HIV testing that the 
user failure rate in So. Cal. USA was 18%. When his supervisor found 
out what he had said, she told me he wasn't supposed to give me that 
information and chewed him out. He said he had no apology for his 
statement. There is obviously an attempt to cover up and propagandize 
about condom effectiveness, allegedly to prevent STD transmission. 
The truth is always the best prevention. As a father of three grown 
daughters I want the best protection for my daughters, and at least 
some are willing to tell the truth, that abstinence or monogamous sex 
is the best prevention.

Any realistic evaluation of this data has to line up with the state-
ment made by Consumer Reports in its June 1999 report, that properly 
used condoms, condoms used correctly every time during sexual con-
tact, "will help protect against diseases and pregnancy". They could 
not state that condoms so used WILL ALWAYS PROTECT AGAINST DISEASES 
AND PREGNANCY. Condoms can only HELP "protect against diseases and 
pregnancy". Correct and conscientious use of condoms DELAYS, NOT 
PREVENTS, EVENTUAL INFECTION. Yes condoms do delay the STD infection 
of a vast majority, but it fails to protect from STDs the grandmoth-
ers, mothers, aunts, daughters, nieces, granddads, dads, uncles, sons 
and nephews who are that small minority (numbering in the thousands 
and millions) that are the victims of condom failure. 

"The best way to prevent sexually transmitted disease (STD) and 
other reproductive tract infections, cervical cancer, and unplanned 
pregnancy and related complications, is abstinence. The second best 
method is monogamy with an uninfected partner, using good contracep-
tion. . . . . Condoms made of latex or polyurethane can help reduce 
the likelihood of STD's, but even these sometimes allow the transmis-
sion of disease; 2-6% of condoms break or fall off during inter-
course, and a condom can break even if you use it perfectly. In fact, 
one in three AIDS victims will contract the disease from an infected 
partner despite 100% use of male condoms."
"Condom users have an estimated 1.4 million contraceptive accidents a 
year ­ the result of the condom slipping or breaking. Teen failure 
rates for condoms are especially high: 27% compared to about 14% for 
the population at large."
His Health, by Dr. Ken Goldberg: "Do they really protect people from 
sexually transmitted diseases? Just how effective are condoms at pre-
venting disease? The answer is, it depends -- depends on which dis-
ease and on which condom. And even more, it depends on whether the 
condom is used correctly and with an understanding of its limita-
tions. . . Likewise, not all condoms are created equal. . . It's also 
come to light recently that there may be variations in quality among 
condom manufacturers..... . . Leakage occurred in less than 1 percent 
of one brand and in almost 23 percent of another. . . . it has made 
manufacturers and government inspectors more vigilant. And it should 
make you wary. . . . . about 15 percent of couples who use condoms 
for birth control get pregnant within the first year, and only about 
2 percent of those failures are the result of breakage. . . One num-
ber you won't see assigned to condoms, however, is 100 percent. A 
condom is far better than no condom, but monogamous sex with an unin-
fected partner is the only truly safe sex."

Table 1. Percentage of U.S. women experiencing contraceptive failure, 
by duration of use and method, according to correction for abortion 
underreporting, 1995 National Survey of Family Growth 

Duration ---------------Uncorrected--------Corrected and Method
Diaphraghm/cervical cap-----5.5---------------7.2----------8.6
Male condom-----------------5.6---------------8.9----------8.8
Periodic abstinence--------13.2--------------14.9---------17.5

Diaphraghm/cervical cap-----9.2--------------13.2---------15.9
Male condom-----------------9.7--------------14.9---------14.7
Periodic abstinence--------20.2--------------21.8---------25.3

Total contraceptive failure rates, uncorrected and corrected but un-
standardized, are from a model including no covariate other than du-
ration of use. Uncorrected and corrected but unstandardized method-
specific failure rates are calculated from a model including duration 
of use, method and the interaction between duration of use and 
method. Corrected and standardized rates are based on a model includ-
ing duration of use, method, age, union status, poverty status, the 
interaction between duration of use and method, and the interaction 
between age and union status. In the latter model, abortion data in 
19 (5%) of 391 cells were transferred to adjoining cells because of 
lack of exposure. "Other" reversible methods were included in all 
models, but separate estimates for these methods are not shown, as 
they do not reflect experience with any specific method."
"Mr. Bennett said Health and Human Services Secretary Otis Bowen told 
him a section dealing with condoms in Surgeon General C. Everett 
Koop's 1986 report on AIDS may be revised to place a greater emphasis 
on the possibility of condom failure."
"Almost a third (30%) of sexually active teens contracted a new STD 
within a mere six months, reported one study, even among condom us-
ers. Source: Dinerman LM, Wilson MD, Duggan AK, Joffe A. Outcomes of 
adolescents using levonorgestrel implants vs. oral contraceptives and 
other contraceptive methods, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent 
Medicine, Sept 1995, 149(9):967-72."
"Many contraceptives are simply not reliable enough for long term 
use. For instance, condoms have an expected first-year failure rate 
of 14% - after five years, this becomes 53%."
"If invoked from within a synchronous process, condom has, by de-
fault, an 80% chance of preventing the external processes from becom-
ing parent processes (see the -s option below). . . . condom is NOT 
100% effective at preventing a child process from being forked or at 
deterring the invasion of a virus (although the System Administrator 
General has deemed that condom is the most effective means of pre-
venting the spread of system transmitted viruses). See celibacy(1) 
for information on a 100% effective program for preventing these 
"* Mutual Masturbation: If semen gets anywhere near the vagina, the 
sperm can swim into the uterus, using the vaginal mucus as a conduit. 
That means if semen gets on someone's hands, and those hands get any-
where near the vagina, a pregnancy and/or STD can result.

* Oral Sex: You can't get pregnant this way, but you can still con-
tract a full compliment of nasty STDs.

* Anal Sex: You can get pregnant this way as semen will drip out of 
the anus into the vaginal area. Also it's easier to contract an STD 
via anal sex as the anal tissue is more prone to tiny tears.

* Sex with Your Clothes On: Sperm will swim right through clothing;"
"Every day approximately 40,000 Northwest couples have unprotected 
sex; almost 60 Northwest women become pregnant each day from condom 
failure alone."
"Condom failure has become the leading cause of unwanted pregnancy, 
says a paper published in this month's British Journal of Family 
Planning (1996;22:6-9). . . . . In the most recent year of the study 
more than 46% of the women blamed condom failure for their unwanted 

Condom use only prevents STD infection temporarily, it only delays 
it, and for sexually active people, perhaps a delay of no more than a 
month. Let's have a little truth, okay?

R Tyler

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