Condoms are by far the easiest way to have safer sex, but the use of male condoms is riddled with myths, false perceptions, and unfounded fears. Working with schools and teachers we asked them to share with us the most common myths and misconceptions they have heard. This UNFPA publication has more details.
So here’s our list of 20 messages that adolescents can learn and share, and of course, there are others!
- Sex education promotes early sexual activity and promiscuity.
- Condom availability promotes early sexual activity and promiscuity.
- Condoms have holes that allow viruses to pass through.
- Condoms are not reliable and leak.
- Condoms break or slip off easily.
- Condoms are too big and slip off.
- Condoms are small, tight, constricting, and uncomfortable.
- Condoms have an unpleasant smell.
- Condom use reduce spontaneity.
- Using a condom causes premature ejaculation.
- Using a condom causes impotence, penile weakness, and loss of erection.
- Using a condom causes vaginal dryness.
- Condoms cause pain, bleeding, infertility in men, infection, disease, foetal damage, cancer, sores, back or kidney pain, other health problems, and death.
- Using a condom prevents women receiving the benefits of semen.
- Retaining semen in the condom can harm the man if it flows back into the penis.
- Using a condom means wasting semen.
- Male condoms can get lost in the woman’s body or burst inside her during sexual intercourse.
- Using a condom means you don’t trust your partner.
- Male and female condoms are for use with sex workers and for casual sex; married and long-term partners don’t need protection against infections.
- Condoms are part of a racist plan against people in developing countries having children.
A Lesson Plan on Male Condoms
We have one fun approach (yes, really!) to teaching this content:
- Make up cards or slips of paper with these myths on (or others you know circulating in your community).
- Form groups of 3/4 participants.
- Hand out the cards to the groups and ask them to discuss:
- If the statement is true
- If it’s a commonly held belief.
- Participants should then:
- draw a tick next to statements they think are true
- draw a cross beside those they think are false
- circle any statements they think are common beliefs (this way they can say it is a false, but common belief).
Start the session by giving the list to each individual, then go through the list as a group and ensure everyone understands each point and then get each of the participants to tick those they think are true and hand in these before they do the group work. That way you will get a snapshot of their knowledge before individuals are influenced by others.
Depending on the adolescence children involved it may work best in gendered groups. The facilitator must have a good grasp of the facts and preferably speak the local language/slang where relevant. We recommend that this lesson is done in two sessions, the topic is broad and will need follow-up discussion.
A similar approach can be used when tackling myths around which foods are safe to be eaten or those that should be avoided during pregnancy.