Condoms: Benefits and Costs to the Environment
Condoms have prevented innumerable unwanted pregnancies that would have otherwise contributed to the global problem of overpopulation. Were it not for those little 'penis caps', the population of the planet would be much higher!
However, condoms are not always as effective as their manufacturers claim. In addition to breaking or coming off during lovemaking, they also contribute to the waste going into landfills, clog septic systems, and are found scattered over fragile coral reefs.
While latex condoms are mostly biodegradable because they are made from rubber trees, they contain other materials that take a long time to decompose. Talc and casein, a protein extracted from milk, take way longer to break down than organic materials. Polyurethanes prophylactics are not biodegradable and neither are the wrappers that encompass them. These chemical products are going to stick around in landfills for a long time.
According to Planet Green, between 60 and 100 million condoms are improperly disposed of each year in the United Kingdom. However, the same article concludes, "Of course the biggest ecological impact resulting from sex is a baby. Human population is arguably the most threatening force on Earth, and with human population expected to reach 8.3 billion by 2030, reproducing is perhaps the largest impact any of us have."
The condom has been called the 'Single Most Important Environmental Innovation', which has, “Without a doubt, prevented ecological catastrophes of meteoric proportions.” Births prevented definitely outweigh condom disposal issues!
According to the Ocean Conservancy, condoms, cover the coral reefs and smother seagrass and other bottom dwellers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has also expressed concerns that many animals mistake the litter for food.
When a condom is made of polyurethane, a plastic material, it does not break down at all. The plastic and foil wrappers are also not biodegradable. However, the benefits condoms offer are widely considered to offset their small landfill mass. Frequent condom or wrapper disposal in public areas such as parks have been seen as a persistent litter problem.
While biodegradable, latex condoms damage the environment when disposed of improperly. Most latex prophylactics disposed of “properly”, end up wrapped up in plastic bags in landfills, and are probably not biodegrading anytime in the near future.
While lambskin condoms exist, they do not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's), and they are obviously not a Vegan product.
Condoms as a method, rather than THE method, of birth control!
Singles exploring the world of casual lovemaking with more than one partner should keep using condoms and dispose of them properly! Those who are enjoying longer, more established relationships, can explore other options.
The AIDS crisis has changed shape. We know more about the ways in which it is and is not transmitted. AIDS is no longer an immediate death sentence. Instead, it has become more of a chronic manageable disease like diabetes. People are living long and happy lives after being diagnosed with HIV.
For those in relationships, the option of regular testing could be considered versus dumping pounds of plastic into landfills. This is a very personal choice, and one must weigh the odds for him- or herself.
Condoms also have a health cost. Many women report chafing during vigorous vaginal sex. Scientists are not fully aware of all the side effects of the spermicides that coat most condoms. Some men and women have physical reactions to latex, the principal ingredient in most condoms.
If one feels safe using condoms but wishes to use fewer for environmental or health reasons, then we recommend using them during Red days. On Green Days, lovers can enjoy the delicious skin-on-skin pleasure of condom-free sex!
And if one does use condoms, experts recommend they be disposed of in a trash receptacle. Flushing condoms down the toilet may clog plumbing or cause other problems.
According to a study by the World Health Organization condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy and protecting against STI’s. However, something that is not publicly discussed is the rate that condoms are used incorrectly! There are several ways to use condoms incorrectly, and the rate of unwanted pregnancy occurring with condom use is around 15%! In addition, condom-error also means that individuals are susceptible to STI’s. Condom mistakes with include: how the condom is put on with around half of the studies respondents admitting to not leaving enough room at the tip of the condom to collect semen. Majority of condom-users are failing to check the condom for damage before using it. Late application, early removal, unrolling the condom before putting it on, not leaving tip at the end of the condom. Failing to remove air from the condom, inside out condoms, failing to unroll all the way, incorrect withdrawal, and incorrect storage! Condoms may provide a false sense of security.
But they stress that it is unknown just how much protection condoms offer. The officials note that condoms have been widely rejected as a method of birth control because they frequently fail, and say the devices may be no better - in fact, may be worse - at curtailing AIDS. They warn that sexually active men and women should not assume that they are protected simply because they use prophylactics.
Dr. Conant, who is also a professor of dermatology at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, said condoms might be no better in preventing the spread of AIDS than in preventing pregnancy and could be even less efficient. He estimated the failure rate for condoms at 10 percent per user over the course of a year. Other researchers say they think the failure rate could be as high as 20 percent a year.
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