STDs that condoms won't prevent

STDs that condoms won't prevent


Monday, September 28, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

WE use condoms primarily to prevent or reduce the chances of getting pregnant or contracting or spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Condoms, according to Medical Internist Dr Samantha Nicholson-Spence, when used consistently and correctly, can effectively reduce the chances of unplanned pregnancy and the spread of STDs.

But even as condoms offer reliable protection against the transmission of many STDs, Dr Nicholson-Spence said that not only do they not provide absolute protection, but there are some diseases, transmitted sexually, that the condom is not physically or otherwise capable of protecting you from.

“Some STDs such as herpes, HPV [Human papillomavirus] and crabs, for example, can be passed on by way of skin-to-skin contact. In some cases, these STDs present with lesions that are not always on the shaft of the penis or the vulva and are not necessarily transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Condoms might not help much with preventing infection,” Dr Nicholson-Spence explained.

So how exactly do you get these STDS, and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of contracting them or passing them on to sexual partners?


Unfortunately, herpes lesions might not only be on the shaft of the penis or the vulva, but they can also be inside the vagina, on the cervix, on the mouth and throat as well as on the general pubic area or in the pelvic region. Since these areas are not covered by the condom, skin-to-skin contact with the lesions could result in transmission. This is why medical professionals generally recommend that you abstain from sex when having a herpes outbreak to reduce the chances of transmitting the STD.


Commonly called crabs, pubic lice is not as common as it once was, because of an increase in the number of people taking time to groom their pubic areas. Pubic lice generally live and lay their eggs in pubic hair and are passed to a person on contact.

“While most people usually get crabs by way of sexual contact, you don't even need sexual contact for crabs. You can get it even by way of using the same sheets, or having contact with certain items of clothing from the infected person,” Dr Nicholson-Spence underscored.


There are over 100 strains of this virus. And while some strains do not present with symptoms, HPV can be passed through skin-to-skin contact.

“In herpes, for example, the lesions are not always on the shaft of the penis, sometimes they are not even visible, but that does not mean they are not contagious. The issue of HPV transmission is also further fuelled by a habit of not putting on the condom before the start of any type of genital contact,” Dr Nicholson-Spence shared.

She explained that some HPVs present with warts, while others are believed to trigger the development of various types of cancers. Some strains of the virus can be prevented with the HPV vaccine.


In most instances, the risk of transmitting syphilis to someone while wearing a condom correctly is very low. However, some medical experts argue that the firm sores that often present in areas that are not covered by the condom, means if the sores are present in an area that is exposed, the highly contagious disease may be transmitted.

Dr Nicholson-Spence said that the best way to stay STD-free is to abstain, or commit to a monogamous relationship, and even then, she recommends the continued use of condoms.

If you decide to engage in sexual relations with multiple partners, she said that not only should you use a condom every time, but it is important that you get tested for STDs regularly.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon