Ask SHIC: Lady problems and condom choices

Dear SHIC,

I overheard my girlfriend complaining about how she’s always getting UTIs to her friend on the phone. I didn’t know what she was talking about and am afraid to ask.  Is this just one of those mysterious “lady problem” things? Am I going to catch it?

– Caught or not?


Dear Caught or not,

UTI stands for urinary tract infection. It is not, however, a sexually transmitted infection. UTIs come from germs, often bacteria that get into the urethra and then the bladder. Both men and women can get UTIs; they’re simply more common in women because the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. The symptoms of a bladder infection include: cloudy or bloody urine, which may have a foul or strong odor, low fever, pain or burning with urination and a strong need to urinate frequently. If you go to the doctor about it, they might take a urine sample to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria and to test for certain chemicals. Antibiotics are a frequently recommended treatment because there’s a risk of the infection passing to the kidneys, which can be serious. The good news is, there are several things you can do to prevent UTIs. No matter what parts you have, the best way to prevent UTIs is by keeping your genitals clean! Make sure you use the bathroom before and after sex, drink lots of fluids, and avoid clothes that will irritate your genitals (synthetic fabric, tight-fitting pants, etc). If you have a vagina, don’t douche and make sure you wipe from front to back when you use the bathroom. Stay safe!




Dear SHIC,

I recently visited your office to buy some condoms, and was overwhelmed with the amount of choices there are! I’d like to try a variety of condoms to see which ones I like best, but my friends all have really strong opinions about certain brands that they say always break. I really want to experiment, but I’m scared of the condom breaking! What should I do?


Condom Cautious


Dear Cautious,

We understand, choosing the right condom for you can be a daunting task! As far as condom safety goes, though, the FDA approves all condoms that are available to consumers. No matter the brand, latex condoms that are labeled as disease preventative (not novelty condoms) are 87-97 percent effective at preventing STIs and pregnancy if used perfectly. That being said, condoms can get damaged through daily wear and tear! It’s always a good idea to check your condom for damage like holes or brittleness, and, of course, check the expiration date! To prevent damage, store condoms in a cool, dry place when possible. If you’re taking your condom on the go, don’t just throw it in a bag or even a wallet. Try protecting your protection in a condom compact, available at SHIC for just $1! You can also stop by the SHIC and have an educator demonstrate the correct way to put on a condom. Proper contraception usage is key to safer sex.

Of course, no barrier method will completely protect you from STIs or pregnancy. The fact of the matter is that sometimes condoms break. That’s why we encourage you to explore other methods of making your sex safer. Try getting tested at Central Iowa Family Planning and encourage your sexual partner(s) to do the same! While you’re there, check out the wide variety of birth control options CIFP has to offer, usually at a low price. There are a lot of things to consider when you are trying to have safer sex. Luckily for you, condom brand is not one of them.




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