Safe Sex

Is Using a Condom Safe Sex?
No, because safe means free from all harm or risk of harm. People rarely use the term “safe sex” when talking about condoms anymore. These days you hear people saying that condoms are “safer sex.” We at Austin LifeGuard say that condoms are like seat belts. Condoms can greatly reduce your risk but they cannot eliminate the risk. Take a look on the condom box, it will probably say so.

Correct condom use can reduce the risk of pregnancy and some – not all – sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms do not guarantee safety or protection from these risks. It is so important to be realistic when making decisions about sexual activity and to understand the risks involved with condoms and other contraceptives.

How Common Is Correct Usage?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), condoms need to be used both consistently AND correctly (1). Consistent condom use is uncommon, and consistent AND correct use is even more rare. That’s not surprising, given that correct use requires a 6-step procedure that begins after erection occurs.

Do Condoms Ever Slip or Break?
Yes. According to research, even if used consistently and correctly, condoms slip off or break from 2 percent to 4 percent of the time. (2)

Condom Conclusion
STDs are a real and present danger. Due to the risk, many have turned to condoms for protection under the assumption that condoms make sex safe.

Research shows that condoms reduce risk for STDs, but they don’t eliminate the risk (1). That’s a critical distinction. Condoms do not make sex safe enough for individuals who truly wish to avoid getting STDs and suffering possible long-term effects.

If you’ve already been sexually active outside a lifelong mutually faithful relationship (as in marriage), talk to your healthcare provider about getting you and your partner tested for STDs or click here for more information on getting tested. Abstinence from sexual activity — including oral sex — or lifetime faithfulness to one uninfected partner is the only certain way to avoid being infected.

STD Testing is Recommended:

  • For anyone who is sexually active (should be tested every six months)
    and/or
  • Every time you change sex partners
  • If your sex partner has been sexually active with someone else.

Find out more about STD testing


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Condoms Fact Sheet In Brief.” http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/brief.html Accessed May 2009.
  2. National Institutes of Health, Workshop Summary, July 20, 2001 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Condoms for the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.” MMWR. 1988; 37(9): 133-137.