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Claim Check

Double Condoms = Double Protection?

by Gina Shaw  

The claim: Doubling up on condoms gives more protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

The facts: No, no, no! Just the opposite is true.

It might seem logical when you first think about it—if one condom is good, wouldn’t two be better? After all, if you have a castle that has a wall and a moat, it keeps out the enemy more effectively, right?

Not in this case. What some people call “double bagging” actually causes friction between the two condoms. As the condoms rub against each other, this increases the chance that one or both of them could break. Also, condoms are designed to fit onto the penis one at a time, so putting two on means that neither one of them is going to fit correctly—and they could both come off at the worst possible time.

The same is true of using a male condom and a female condom at the same time. Just use that single condom properly—put it on the right way, don’t reuse it, and don’t even consider using that 10-year-old Trojan you found in an old wallet—and you’ll be well protected.

If you still want to feel more secure, you can get an extra layer of protection by doubling up two different birth control methods—a condom for the guy paired with a diaphragm, IUD, or birth control pills for the woman.

That’s not a bad idea considering that condoms—though 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly every time—are only 82 percent effective in real life, according to Planned Parenthood. And female condoms, though 95 percent effective when used perfectly, are just 79 percent effective in real life. That means that 18 to 21 women would get pregnant a year if they use condoms as their only form of birth control.

Also see Does the Pill Make You Fat?