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An actual use comparison of condoms meeting Australian and Swiss standards: results of a double-blind crossover trial.

Benton KW, Jolley D, Smith AM, Gerofi J, Moodie R

  • Journal International journal of STD & AIDS

  • Published 24 Sep 1997

  • Volume 8

  • ISSUE 7

  • Pagination 427-31

  • DOI 10.1258/0956462971920479


The performance of condoms in actual use has been poorly researched in the past, especially in comparing condoms that met different quality control standards as indicated by laboratory testing. The present study used a double-blind crossover design to compare the performance of 2 types of condoms in actual use; one that met the Australian and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for condom quality and one that met the more stringent Swiss Quality Seal requirements. Ninety-two men recruited from Metropolitan Melbourne completed a self-report diary sheet after each condom was used which assessed the performance of the condom and the conditions under which it was used. From a total of 1917 condom uses, there was an overall breakage risk of 2.7%. The breakage risk ratio (Australian/ISO:Swiss) for all types of use was 1.16 (95% confidence interval 0.68-1.99). When subanalyses by method of entry were performed, the condoms meeting the Swiss standard appeared to fare better than the Australian/ ISO standards for anal sex (RR = 4.84, 95% CI 1.07-21.8, P = 0.022), while the opposite was the case for vaginal sex (RR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.35-1.53, P = 0.41). The result for anal use was statistically significant at the 5% level, despite being based on fewer condom trials than that for vaginal use, but this result needs to be replicated. Although the participants appeared representative of the general male population in Melbourne in the age bracket 18-46 years, there was a significant history of condom usage reported. This may have influenced the risk of breakage.