Roundups Sexual Health

Sexual Health Roundup: CDC Say Hormonal Methods Don’t Increase HIV Risk and Cheaters Less Likely to Have Safe Sex

Martha Kempner

In this week's sexual health round up: a CDC review of available evidence found that hormonal contraception (including Depo-Provera) does not increase a woman's risk of contracting or transmitting HIV; a new study found that cheaters were less likely to practice safer sex than those in open relationships; an online club will send you condoms for as little of $1 a month; and a man steals a vibrator for a reason.

CDC Concludes that Hormonal Birth Control Does Not Increase HIV Risk  

Recent studies raised some concerns about whether hormonal methods of contraception, including birth control pills and injectable contraceptives, increase a woman’s risk of contracting HIV. Last week after reviewing all available evidence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that there is no clear evidence of such a link and that women at risk of HIV infection or those who already have the virus “can continue to use all hormonal contraceptive methods without restriction.” 

Specifically, the study concluded that the “evidence does not suggest” any link between increased HIV risk and the birth control pill or oral contraceptives. The research on injectable contraception — sold under the brand name Depo-Provera — is less conclusive. In fact, it was a study published last October in the Lancet Infectious Diseases which spurred these doubts. That study of women in areas with high rates of HIV found injectable contraception could double the risk of women contracting HIV and that hormonal contraceptive use in women who have the virus could double the risk that they transmit it to a male partner though it is unclear why this would be the case.

The CDC’s review determined that the evidence about Depo-Provera and HIV transmission is inconclusive but said in the absence of more definitive research the shot is still considered safe. As a result of this review the CDC did add a clarification to its Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraception in which it says that when treating women at high risk for HIV infection who use progestin-only injectables providers should “… acknowledge the inconclusive nature of the body of evidence regarding the association between progestin-only injectable use and HIV acquisition.” One of the authors of the review explained: “Because we can’t say from the evidence that there is an increased risk, they [hormonal contraceptives] are all still considered safe, including the injectables.”

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The CDC strongly encourages the use of condoms as a precaution against HIV for all women at risk. The criteria say: “All women who use contraceptive methods other than condoms should be counseled about the use of condoms and the risk for sexually transmitted infections.”

The World Health Organization also conducted a review of the evidence and came to similar conclusions. 

Cheaters Less Likely to Use Condoms than Those in Open Relationships

A new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals who had been secretly unfaithful to their partner were less likely to use condoms than those who had their partner’s consent to have sex with another person. Researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed 1,647 individuals who responded to an online advertisement. About half of them said they had had sex with someone other than their primary partner. Of these, 493 said they had the knowledge and consent of their primary partner to be non-monogamous while 308 said they were in a monogamous relationship but being unfaithful. 

One of the more upsetting findings of the survey was that these individuals, the ones who were being unfaithful, were 27 percent less likely to use condoms when having vaginal sex  and 35 percent less likely to use condoms when having anal sex with a non-primary partner than those who had their primary partner’s permission to be non-monogamous.

Monogamy is often touted as a way to reduce transmission of STDs, but this obviously only works if both partners enter the relationships having tested negative for all STDs and then both partners remain faithful. These individuals who are being unfaithful and not using condoms are putting themselves, their primary partners, and any other partners at significant risk of STDs. The author’s note that the open relationships—where partners have permission to have sex outside the relationship — seems to pose less risk:

“If people do not find monogamy appealing or feasible, they clearly need to think about the risk this poses to their partner and consider whether an open relationship would suit their needs better, and better protect their relationship partners.”


These days we can pretty much avoid stores altogether — my books come from Amazon, my movies from Netflix, my groceries from Fresh Direct, and my shoes from Zappos. Now we can get our condoms that way as well. Though not the first mail-order-condom service, the founders of the Dollar Rubber Club say that their monthly service is “the best bang for your buck.” Sign up for the “Traveling Salesman,” and the club  will send you three condoms each month for $1 (plus $2 shipping and handling).  If that’s not enough to cover your monthly sexual encounters you can choose “The Zen Master” package with six condoms a month at $5, “The Swordsman,” with 12 condoms for $9, or the “Weekend Warrior,” with a variety pack of 12 condoms for $10. Shipping and handling prices vary for each package. For those prices you have a choice of Trojan or LifeStyle brand condoms.

The founders explain that they were tired of the embarrassing trip to the drug store to buy condoms and even more tired of not having condoms in the night table drawer when they needed them. So they dreamed up the monthly club and as they say on their about us page

“So, we bought a ton of Trojan™ and LifeStyles™ condoms to keep prices as low as possible and pass on the savings to you.  Better than that, our products are the same you’d buy in the store, just cheaper and less embarrassing to purchase. AND, each of our whopper-wrappers is tested according to International standards and safe for your man-junk.”

You can sign up for the service, which began this month, on the site’s home page using a PayPal and you can cancel or switch plans at any time.

Vibrator Thief Tells Police: My Wife and I Needed It!

Police were recently called to a Walgreens in Florida when a clerk caught a man taking a “personal massager” from the shelf and bringing it into the bathroom. The man bolted throwing the Trojan Twister (a five-speed, battery-powered device that twists into four possible positions and sells for about $50) into a nearby garbage pail where it was later found by police. When he was found by police he explained that he and his wife were having marital issues and needed the vibrator. While the officers may have been sympathetic to his plight, they arrested him nonetheless. He has since been released on his own recognizance and given a court date.  

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