Condoms Provided during the Summer Olympics: By The Numbers

Rio Olympics 2016 (Indian Express)

Rio Olympics 2016 (Indian Express)

By this point, it’s no secret that Olympic Village is famous for hook-ups. (Though whether athletes are partaking before or after their events, who can say?) It makes sense: Throw together thousands of elite athletes from all over the world who are in peak physical shape who’ve trained most, if not all, of their lives, for a sport with a laser focus that more than likely excludes almost everything else. And what better way to blow off some steam during this once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Officials at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) clearly had the same thought, because athletes at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics have been provided with a record number of condoms: 450K+ condoms were ordered for 10K athletes. This breaks down into 350K male condoms, 100K female condoms, and 175K packets of lube. This further breaks down into 42 condoms per athlete, assuming said athlete stays for the duration of the Games.

Providing condoms to the athletes isn’t a new phenomenon; the practice began during the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea. Only 8.5K condoms were provided that year. But that number has steadily grown over the years, and has grown exponentially in the recent past. During the last Summer Olympics held in London in 2012, 150K condoms were provided.

Here’s a data table that shows how the number of condoms has risen during the Summer Olympics:

Number of Condoms Provided During the Summer Olympics, 1988-2016

Number of Condoms Provided During the Summer Olympics, 1988-2016

And a data table that shows the same data for the Winter Olympics:

Number of Condoms Provided During the Winter Olympics, 1992-2014

Number of Condoms Provided During the Winter Olympics, 1992-2014

(Somehow, no data was available for Turin in 2006.)

This data table shows how the number of condoms provided has risen through both the Summer and Winter Olympics:

Number of Condoms Provided During the Summer and Winter Olympics, 1988-2016

Number of Condoms Provided During the Summer and Winter Olympics, 1988-2016

There is one problem with these numbers: Aside from the data from Rio, we can’t tell how many, if any, condoms were female condoms, or if they were all male condoms.

It’ll be interesting to see how the number of condoms provided grows over the next few Olympic Games.

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: London Olympics Condoms, 2012

London Summer Olympics Condoms, 2012 (Eikon)

London Summer Olympics Condoms, 2012 (Eikon)

Did you know the Olympics had their own branded condoms? I certainly didn’t, until I found this image. And this one isn’t repeated each time: Every Olympic Games receives their own specially-branded condoms.

If I was an Olympic athlete, I know I’d be pocketing these for souvenirs (no, really!).

How is the Zika Virus Affecting Brazil’s Free Condoms During Carnival?

Mardi Gras mask and beads (123 RF)

Mardi Gras mask and beads (123 RF)

Today is Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday, if you prefer)! It’s a day of revelry before Lent’s 40 somber days take over. Celebrations are held all over the world, but none are more famous than Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s capital. There’s music, costumes, and dancing in the streets, but also a lot of unprotected sexual contact.

In years past, Brazil has been good about keeping those who choose to be sexually active during Carnival safe. The government passes out free condoms during the celebration as an incentive to wrap it up (which eliminates the “I didn’t have a condom” excuse for going without) and to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS. And the number of condoms is  always large: In 2015, estimates ranged from 70M to 120M condoms passed out for Carnival.

But what about 2016? I couldn’t find any data on how many condoms Brazil would be passing out this year. I’ve found news on how the country is alerting citizens to the Zika virus and how it’s spread, but no hard (haha) numbers on the condom factor. This is very surprising, given how the number is generally publicly known before Carnival even starts.

You’d think that with the Zika virus in play, the Brazilian government would want to pass out more condoms than usual (the number tends to baseline around 70-75M within recent years). But I haven’t seen anything on how, or even if, the Zika crisis has influenced the number of condoms that’ll be distributed. This is interesting to note, given that Brazil currently has the highest rate of Zika infections.

I’ll update if I eventually find out how many condoms Brazil will give out to revelers. I really hope to find that out.

Sex & The ’60s: Why Did Condom Usage Decline During the Decade?

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

This week, we’re examining sexuality data from the 1960s, in celebration of the upcoming final half-season of “Mad Men” beginning Apr. 5th.

Everyone knows that the 1960s was a game-changer in terming of blowing sexuality wide open, and that we still feel the reverberations today. But one aspect of sexuality was negatively impacted during that timeframe: condom usage.

But why? It comes down to the economic principle of substitution, which holds that when the price of one good rises, demand for a similar good rises. (Picture coffee and tea in this scenario: If the price of coffee goes up, fewer people will want, or can afford, to buy it, so they’ll want tea.) In the 1960s, other methods appeared on the scene, and they became more popular to use, so the substitution effect took hold. Though price didn’t play into it, the effects were unchanged.

One method majorly stood out. Enovid, the first birth control pill, was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960. (The contraceptive pioneered by Dr. Carl Djerassi, “the father of The Pill,” later got licensed under the trade name Ortho Novum.) Its popularity grew rapidly: 1.2M+ American women are on it in 1962, and then almost doubles to 2.3M+ the next year.

By the middle of the decade, 25% of couples used it, and 6.5M+ American women used it (but no data on the number of partnered versus single women who used it).

But that wasn’t the only birth control innovation. In 1968, the FDA also approved the first intrauterine devices (IUDs). Unlike today’s common T-shape, Dr. Hugh Davis’s Dalkon shield was egg-shaped with a number of dull spikes emanating from it. Within two years, the IUD had sold 600K+ in the U.S.

With these advances, it’s easy to see that the simple condom would’ve slipped out of public favor.

 

Why Are Condoms So Expensive in Venezuela Right Now?

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Happy Friday!

Apropos of National Condom Week: Would you pay $755 for a box of condoms?

That’s insane, right? But right now, sexually-active and contraception-conscious Venezuelans don’t have much of a choice. That’s how much a 36-pack of Trojan condoms is going for. With the exchange rate, it works out to be $20+ per condom. If you’re shopping around, a 24-back of Durex condoms is selling for $317, making it the (slightly) more economical choice of $13+ per condom. (For context, this is about $10 more than the country’s standard black market rate.)

This is really alarming when you consider that the country’s minimum monthly wage is $888.24.

The Venezuelan people literally cannot afford to have safe sex.

The reason behind these sky-high prices? Oil.

Venezuela exports a lot of the stuff, using it to bring in around 95% of foreign earnings. But oil prices have fallen dramatically recently (over 60% drop within the past seven months), leading to fewer earnings for the country. This, in turn, inhibits Venezuela’s ability to import other basic goods (such as chicken, milk and corn), since their money doesn’t stretch as far. The Bank of America Corporation estimates the the country will import 42% less in earnings than it did in 2012.

Condoms aren’t the only contraceptive that’s hard to come by within the country. Birth control pills are also in high demand, and are very hard to find right now.

According to “Bloomberg Business,” the shortages began in late December, when the Venezuelan government “tightened dollar disbursements amid sliding oil revenue.” The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation offered the following observation:

No condoms were available in 10 eastern and central Caracas pharmacies visited in late January, compared with as many as 20 different kinds available at some locations in November, including Reckitt Benckiser Group plc’s Durex and Church & Dwight Co.’s Trojan brands.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was attempting to fix this problem before it started: Last June, he announced that the government was building a condom factory to meet the country’s demand. But since then, customers disliked the quality of the condoms, and demand often outpaced supply.

Another factor in this saga is Venezuela’s own sexual health stats. According to a 2012 World Bank study, the country has the fifth-highest number of teen pregnancies out of the 21 Latin America countries. (This averages out to be 88+ live births for women ages 15-19 for every 1K women.) It also has the fourth-highest number of people living with AIDS on the continent.

If this condom (and birth control) shortage continues, it’ll impact Venezuela’s teen pregnancy and AIDS population for the worse. As prices rise, people will become more inclined to completely forgo any birth control method, and the government might not be able to support the overwhelming resulting birth rate. Let’s hope a solution arrives before these things come to pass.

I’m just thankful condoms are not only cheaper than a child, but also cheaper than a month’s rent.

Brazil Will Pass Out Free Condoms During Carnival

Mardi Gras mask and beads (123 RF)

Mardi Gras mask and beads (123 RF)

Happy Mardi Gras! Known in English as Fat Tuesday (and just in time for National Condom Week), today celebrates casting off repression, upending social norms and indulging in vices before the Christian season of Lent begins (when enjoying all earthly pleasures ceases for 40 days). Much like Halloween, masks and costumes, dancing and lust in the air figure prominently.

Brazil has made Carnival an international destination, and it’s legendary for a reason. Several cities throw parades, led by various samba schools. Many foreigners fly in for the multi-day party (spanning the Friday before to Ash Wednesday at noon), making Carnival the country’s biggest tourism booster.

Naturally, when the shackles of convention are thrown aside, a lot more spontaneous sex occurs (because when in Rio…). But the Brazilian government is always prepared for this: they give out free condoms.

This year, they’ll hand out 70M condoms throughout the country. They’ve done this for years, handing out 65M in 2009, 55M in 2010, 89M in 2011, 3M in 2012, 73M in 2013 and 104M in 2014.

For visual learners, here’s a decade-long progression in line-graph form:

Brazil's Condom Distribution during Carnival, 2005-2015

Brazil’s Condom Distribution during Carnival, 2005-2015

As you can see, the number of condoms distributed during Carnival has tended to baseline around 70-75M in recent years (aside from 2012, whose 3M looks incorrect, to say the least).

Last year, the Brazilian government estimated that 2M+ people were on the streets at any given time during Carnival. Surely attendees can find at least one person to hook up with during the popular “blocos” (street-wide parties).

 

How Thick is the Average Condom?

Condoms

Condoms

Happy Friday! Just in time for the weekend, I’m wondering about how thick condoms are.

The Brunswick Centre, a charity that provides sexual health services based in the UK, sheds some light on this: Condoms are measured in microns. One micron is .01 mm (one/one-hundreth of a millimeter).

Their FAQ sheet on condoms breaks it down:

“An extra thin condom is around 4 microns thick, an average condom is around 7 microns thick and an extra thick condom is around 9 microns thick.”

Knowledge is power. Go forth and use it.