Advising teenagers that condom use is dangerous is widely assumed to lead to less condom usage among those who are sexually active, and now a Jewish group is giving the same advice you’ve heard of Christian abstinence classes giving.
The Orthodox Union has just launched its counterpart to the abstinence movement we’ve all read so much about. Read through the literature on the abstinence movement making its way through public schools and other childhood education, and you’ll find that it leads to decreased condom use among the sexually-active, that self-proclaimed “virgins” frequently choose instead to engage in sexual activity that they simply don’t consider “sexual intercourse” and tend to do it in an unsafe manner, and myriad other issues.
Now, if you were thinking that when Jewish groups, with so many health professional among their ranks having spoken out against these pro-abstinence tactics, would veer away from suggestions that could tempt Jewish youth into unsafe practices, you’d be wrong:
Condoms Are Not the Answer!
Condoms might protect people from pregnancy and most forms of STD, but there’s a lot they don’t protect people from.*
For starters, condoms do not protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be passed by body parts left uncovered by a condom. There are over 100 strains of HPV, which can cause a number of things, from genital warts to prostate cancer in men and cervical cancer in women. (Over 12,000 women develop invasive cervical cancer a year and over 4,000 women die from it.) HPV is most common among men and women who have multiple sex partners. (HPV can be detected in woman by a Pap test but there are no HPV tests for men.)
Additionally, a particular spermicide used in some condoms can actually make people more likely to contract HIV! Nonoxynol-9 (N9) is a spermicide used in many condoms (and most diaphragm jellies). N9 makes tiny scratches in the vaginal walls, which makes the transmission of disease more likely. A four-year study found that people who used N9 had a 50% higher rate of infection than those who used a placebo. (Use of N9 can also lead to vaginal lesions and urinary tract infections.)
Oh, and that asterisk at the top? Just in case you were wondering:
*There are certain forms of birth control that a married couple may be permitted to use under certain circumstances, but a condom is not among them. Married persons in search of guidance in this area, please consult your rabbi. If you do not have a rabbi, please email AskNCSY@ou.org.