Planned Parenthood Marks Valentine’s Day and National Condom Week by Urging Partners to Protect Their Sexual Health
February 13 — Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and the start of National Condom Week (February 14-21), and Planned Parenthood is encouraging sexually active individuals to talk with their partners about the importance of condom use. Using condoms correctly and consistently is the best protection against both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, and unintended pregnancy.
Nearly 20 million STIs and more than three million unintended pregnancies occur each year in the U.S. Condoms are the only form of contraception that also help reduce the risk of STIs.
“It’s important to remember that no matter what our age, we could still be at risk for a sexually transmitted infection,” said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The truth is that condoms can actually make sex more fun and relaxed because you don’t have to worry about STIs or unintended pregnancy. Consistent condom use helps protect your health and well-being – no matter how old you are or where you are in life.
“This Valentine’s Day, let your partner know that you want to use condoms every time you have sex – so you can both stay healthy.” Planned Parenthood is here to help make conversations about condom use easier. We have resources on how to use condomscorrectly, and how to talk about condom use with your partner.
This year for Valentine’s Day and National Condom Week, Planned Parenthood is sharing a list of five things you can do for yourself this weekend, as well as a list of five digital resources parents can share with their teens if they are dating.
Five Things to Do for Yourself This Valentine’s Day
1. Bring the condoms – and try out a new kind! Whether you have a date or a night out with friends this weekend, it’s always best to be prepared. Take this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to condom shop: textured, flavored, colored, female/internal – you might find a new favorite. And condoms are a good way to feel a little more relaxed about your sex life – many people say they find sex more enjoyable with condoms because they aren’t worrying about STDs or unintended pregnancy.
2. Take a healthy relationship quiz. Whether it’s been a month, a year, or a decade, everyone deserves to be in an honest, loving, and supportive relationship. Take Planned Parenthood’s quiz to see if your relationship is making you truly happy. (The quiz focuses on romantic and sexual relationships, but many of the ideas apply to other relationships as well.)
3. Spend some time boosting your positive body image. Practice a little self-love this Valentine’s Day: make a list of your positive qualities, or treat your body to a little extra pampering, like a massage or a hot bubble bath. There’s a lot you can do to feel better about your body image.
4. Practice partner communication: make sure you’re on the same page with current or future partners about staying healthy sexually. Before things start to heat up, have a conversation about how you’re going to prevent pregnancy and STDs, and who will be responsible for what – for example, who will get the condoms, or if you’ll take turns. Be direct about your needs and feelings. You may want to first practice what you are going to say to your partner. Emphasize that you'll have a better sexual experience knowing you are protecting each other’s health.
5. Double-check your birth control method. Are you using the method that best fits your needs right now? Birth control is not one-size-fits all. What works for one woman may not work for another – or even at a different time in her life. There are so many birth control options available to women – from the pill to IUDs to implants to the shot – just answer a few simple questions in Planned Parenthood’s My Method widget and get personalized recommendations you can use to start a conversation with your provider.
Five Digital Resources for Parents of Dating Teens
Planned Parenthood recently launched nine new digital tools -- designed for mobile phones -- that encourage teens to talk with their parents about sex, plan for their futures, and make healthy decisions around sex and dating. Parents who have teens who may be going on dates this weekend can share these tools with their teens as a way of sparking discussion and helping set some ground rules in advance. A few of the tools for teens are: 1. Awkward or Not?: This fun quiz encourages teens to talk with their parents about dating and sex, and offers tips to start the conversation.
2. Fast Forward: Teens can make goals for their education, career, and family, and consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans.
3. The Kickback: This tool puts younger teens inside a realistic party and teaches teens helpful responses when they’re pressured to drink, use drugs, or have sex.
4. My Birth Control: Young women who are already sexually active answer a series of questions to find which birth control method is best for them and helps them make decisions they will stick with.
5. It Takes Two: Teens can watch videos of real talk from teens about sex and the importance of using both condoms and birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
The full set of digital tools for teens can be found here. Parents can find other resources on our Tools for Parents page.
Further background on condoms and sexually transmitted infections:
Condoms are an essential part of staying healthy and protecting yourself against both sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.
• When it comes to HIV, using a condom makes sex 10,000 times safer than not using a condom. • Research has shown that only 19 percent of single women 20 to 44 always use condoms, and condoms are used in only about six percent of sexual encounters among those 61 and older. • Contradicting long-held cultural ideas about condom use, a study published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men and women rated recent sexual experiences as highly pleasurable whether or not condoms were used. • Even if you are using another method of birth control, you may be at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Using condoms plus another method of birth control – like the IUD, implant, shot or pill – is the best way to prevent both pregnancy and STIs.
Rates of STIs remain a major problem in this country. Every year, there are approximately 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the U.S.
• Sexually transmitted infections, if left untreated, can lead to serious health outcomes like increased risk of infertility and cervical cancer. Having an STI can also increase your chances of contracting HIV. • Many people who have a sexually transmitted infection don’t realize it, since many STIs cause no immediate symptoms. For example, 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms. And, on average, people with HIV don’t develop symptoms for 10 years. • Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STI in the United States, with an estimated 820,000 new cases every year. The recent emergence of a new drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea means that protecting yourself from infection is even more important than before.
Planned Parenthood works every day to reduce the number of STIs and unintended pregnancies and to keep people healthy. Planned Parenthood affiliates provide educational programs to more than a million people of all ages, and the Planned Parenthood website receives more than 52 million visits every year.
### Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.