This Valentine’s Day, Celebrate National Condom Day

Lovebirds already know that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day (and if you haven’t yet made dinner reservations, good luck) but before we shower our loved ones with gifts and affection, let’s remember not to give our partners unwanted gifts that we can’t take back. February 12 is International Condom Day, celebrated appropriately in conjunction with Valentine’s Day to remind us to always practice safe sex.

Some people may argue that having to use a condom can take the romance out of the moment, but you know what can potentially take romance out for a lifetime (or at the least, an extended period of time)? Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There are almost twenty million new cases every year in the United States alone, and using a male condom substantially reduces the risk of transmission of STDs, including HIV, which is especially important if you intend to become sexually active with a new partner, are not in an exclusive or committed relationship, or have more than one sexual partner.

Not to mention, many people who have an STD are unaware of it. Up to 90% of people with genital herpes, and estimates show that as many as one of five Americans may have it, are unaware that they have it.

And if kids are not in your near future, don’t neglect to use at least one form of contraception. Condoms, when used properly, are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Not only do unintended pregnancies often lead to hardship for the pregnant mother, the caretaker, and the child, these unintended pregnancies also cost Americans more than $12 billion each year.

If you are inexperienced at using condoms, there are many resources that illustrate the proper way to put on a condom. (By the way, it is a myth that “double-bagging,” using more than one condom at a time, is more effective than just using one—it may even cause condom breakage.)

Unprotected sex in the heat of passion is not worth it. Love is great—STDs and unwanted pregnancies are not. Don’t put yourself at risk. Get the facts, get tested, and use condoms.

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