Written by Bukola Adebayo - Nigeria
Many should know by now that forgoing condoms during sex puts them at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or getting pregnant every other month, but they still prefer not to use it.
According to a recent study conducted by the Society for Family Health, 80 per cent of the 1.8 billion sexual activities that occur in Nigeria yearly take place without condom use.
The report states that in spite of its scientifically proven efficacy in reducing the spread of the dreaded HIV infection in the country, eight out of every 10 Nigerian men do not use condom during sexual intercourse, while the women do not insist on men wearing condoms either.
Why is condom not popular in Nigeria? Though it is debatable, many are quick to give the excuse that it is uncomfortable and denies them the pleasure of love-making.
However, experts are worried about this low condom use among Nigerians. They note that the danger of not using condom outweighs the inconvenience that those who do not use it claim to have when they do.
A medical practitioner, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, says going without condoms during sex not only heightens one's risks of contracting STDS like HIV, but it has also been shown to increase maternal deaths arising from unsafe abortions of unwanted pregnancies.
He notes that many women who get pregnant through unprotected sex are often forced, depending on the terrain, to seek unsafe abortions which could compromise their life and health.
Odusote states, "Unwanted pregnancy is one of the complications that arise from unprotected sex. Sex is seen as recreation and not necessarily for procreation. When people are stressed out and do not know what to do, sex is another way for them to relax. However, when an unwanted pregnancy arises from such activity, unsafe abortion is likely to happen.
"Many women have died seeking abortions of pregnancies that arose from unprotected sex. Many homes have been broken because of an unwanted pregnancy which occurred because someone, somewhere, along the line did not use protection. Low condom use in Nigeria is one of the reasons why the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality and unwanted pregnancies in the world."
On sexually transmitted diseases, Odusote likens non-monogamous skin-to-skin sex to an open invitation to sexually-transmitted infections.
He notes that though condom use does not guarantee 100 per cent that one would not contract HIV, during sex, it has, been proved to reduce one's chances of getting infected by more than 80 per cent.
"HIV is not the highest killer disease in the world, but it has the potential to be because of its various modes of transmission which includes sexual intercourse. One can get infected without even recognising it. Condom use has been shown to reduce it transmission in Nigeria. I think it's time people familiarised themselves with its use because HIV/AIDS is real," he adds.
Odusote states that STDS such as gonorrhoea, syphilis and Chlamydia - which are transmitted during unprotected sex, when not detected and treated may lead to infertility.
He states, "Infertility is a growing problem in the world and statistics are now showing that one-third of the male population may have fertility challenges. This development has been linked to increase in STDs such as gonorrhoea and Chlamydia.
"These are infections that are difficult to detect and treat; but using condom has been known to prevent their transmission. This is a major reason why we advocate condom use for young people always, so that their fertility is not compromised."
The physician stresses that it is not only the responsibility of a man to ensure that sex is safe, a woman can also ensure that she is protected by using a female condom.
Some schools of thought even suggest that female condoms were invented because men did not like wearing theirs; so, if your partner refuses to wear a rubber, you can use yours.
Odusote says, "It is the woman that bears the brunt of an unwanted pregnancy in Africa. So, women should insist that their partners wear it. If he refuses, you can always use yours. Safe sex is a joint responsibility."
Finally, if you must go without a condom, ask yourself sincerely: 'is my partner faithful to me and only me sexually? If you can't answer in the affirmative, don't skip the condom.