This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shambhavi Saxena. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

7 Misconceptaions About Condoms We Really Need To Destroy

More from Shambhavi Saxena

When I was four, I found a sealed condom packet in my parents’ bedroom. The illustrated instructions on the back were bizarre but interesting. Then my mother walked in. She could’ve been rattled, and shooed me away, but she sat down and painstakingly answered my overflowing questions. And that would be the last time for a long time before I saw anyone have a proper conversation about condoms.

The next vague mention of it was in that one condom ad, where a dude who is unbelievably happy about the rain comes into a chemist’s store and asks for a “chhatri“? He meant a condom. If I was that chemist I’d probably have banished him and his euphemisms from my store.

What it always boiled down to was euphemisms, so we never learned to talk about condoms – kinda like how we don’t talk sex and sexuality. And as a result, our little latex friends get a pretty bad rap. It seems like we should know a little more about one of the few things standing between our bodies and several potentially life-threatening diseases. Everybody seems to know a little some-some about condoms and sex in general, but most of the time that isn’t enough. So here’s a couple of myths and facts that you oughta know!

1. ‘Condoms Are New Tech’

The first time condoms got significant recognition when HIV/AIDS was discovered in 1981, after which the use of latex condoms was encouraged in nearly every part of the world. But condoms have existed since pretty much forever. There’s cave paintings from 15,000 BC that depict “penis sheaths,” but arguably the first use of a condom specifically to prevent disease was by King Minos of Crete, in 3000 BC. Of course these were made of linen and probably not that effective. By about 1400 CE, aristocrats in Asia had developed slightly better version, made of oil paper, animal intestines or tortoise shell. That last one sounds a mite uncomfortable, eh? Wait until you hear about the first rubber condom invented in 1885 that was as thick as a bicycle tube. Yikes! It wasn’t until 1920 that the high-tensile latex condom was finally made.

2. ‘Condoms Tear Easily And Are Not Effective’

Whoa there, tiger, slow down. The whole point of a condom is to not tear during sex. Yes, condoms can tear or break for a couple of reasons, but it isn’t because you’re too much of a pro for the condom to handle. Tears happen when a condom is not put on properly (here’s a helpful guide) or if the latex is exposed to too much oil. So using a water-based lubricant, and making sure you don’t get any oil-based lipsticks on your condoms is always a good practice. As for effectiveness, they are effective 98% of the time, when used correctly. Not to cramp your style, folks, but just take precaution with your precaution, okay?

3. ‘Condoms Are For Vaginal Sex Only’

We like to think this is true, because we like to think of condoms as contraceptives. Yes condoms are a form of birth control, but they are also meant to guard against Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or infections. We also tend to believe this myth because we think all sex is peno-vaginal. Remember that one time from “Sex and the City” when Miranda insisted on using a condom for oral sex? It wasn’t just for laughs. And anal sex? Rubber up, please and thank you. Because we think sex is peno-vaginal, we completely write off safe sex for gay or lesbian partners, who don’t have to deal with unplanned pregnancies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to worry about other medical risks! So really, no matter what kind of sex you’re having, and no matter what your sexual orientation is, it’s always a good idea to use a condom.

4. ‘You Can Lose A Condom Inside Your Partner’

Alright, granted, this horrifying incident has actually happened to some people, and has taken a lot of embarrassment, fear and struggling before it can be fixed. The risk here is that, once the condom has slipped off – you may be exposed to infection. Also, having a foreign object inside your body that you are unable to remove is obviously a big no-no. But this isn’t everybody’s condom story. It usually happens because – you guessed it – the condom wasn’t put on correctly, or was the wrong size and slipped off. So as long as you have all this sorted before you start, you’re good.

5. ‘Condoms Are Restrictive’

Okay, so technically a condom is supposed to restrict the flow of semen (as well as more malicious microorganisms), but this is a complaint that is more culturally constructed than anything else. Sure, sex feels different without a condom, but it’s also a heck of a lot more dangerous. And if this is about a size thing, allow me to reiterate – High. Tensile. Latex. Never has anything been truer to the phrase “one size fits all.” And if proof is what you’re after, check out any of the million blown-up condom challenges on YouTube:

6. ‘Only Men Use Condoms’

Okay, even though “female condoms” are now available in the market, you can kind of see why this is still a widely held belief. You think “condom” and you think “penis” and you think “men.” But it isn’t that simple. For one thing, the idea is obviously exclusive of trans and non-binary people. For another, it perpetuates the idea that only men are sexually active beings, and condoms exist solely for the purposes of their sex drives. No. Condoms are a shared responsibility between two (or more) partners.

7. ‘Buying Condoms Makes You Immoral’

This comes from the idea that anything even remotely related to sexuality is bad. Which of course is bunkum. Buying condoms, refreshing an old stock, and having a supply at hand whenever you’re settling in for some safe consensual sexy-times actually makes you a responsible person. So don’t let anyone shame you for having condoms on you. That makes about as much sense as tsk tsking at someone for “open-carrying” a pack of sanitary napkins, without the black bag.

I don’t know how many of you had to sit through the awkward giggling session in school that was supposed to be Sex Education, but I did, and I sure didn’t get told all of this stuff. The condom is a pretty splendid invention, so why shouldn’t we know more about it? Not only does is prevent disease transmission, it also encourages a healthier sexual culture. For people who enjoy having sex, condoms are here to make things safer and more comfortable. They’ve helped reduce unwanted pregnancies, changed family planning, and even altered some of the power dynamics between men and women. And, more interestingly, condoms have meant safer sex practices for people of all orientations as well. Funny how long we’ve come since those tortoise shells, huh?


You must be to comment.

More from Shambhavi Saxena

Similar Posts

By Tania Mitra

By Kunal Gupta

By Ritushree

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below