Condom sales on the rise

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- One industry that appears to be recession resistant is the condoms industry.

Believe it or not, the sale of condoms is on the rise across the nation. Local doctors tell Volunteer TV News that fewer women are on birth control these days because it can be expensive. That’s why more and more people are turning to different types of birth control.

"Condoms are much easier to access because you do not need a prescription,” said Caroline Moore, a nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood.

On Tuesday, the condom aisle at Target in West Knoxville had seen a lot of visitors. In fact several rows of latex protection were already sold out.

Sales of condoms in the U.S. rose 5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, and 6 percent in January versus the same time periods the previous years according to the research firm Nielsen. With the economy slowing down, experts say more people are staying in or nesting, but at the same time, cash strapped families are hesitant to grow.

"We're seeing a lot of folks saying they don't have insurance,” said Dr. Walton Smith with Fort Sanders OB/GYN.

With no insurance, many women in Knoxville are also saying no to birth control pills. Experts point out the $6 cost for a box of condoms as a reason the cheaper form of contraception is winning out over the pull.

The bad news is that fewer women are also choosing to get annual exams.

"We're a little worried,” said Dr. Walton Smith. “A few months down the road, there may be some unintended pregnancies."

"We're losing the older ones,” said Moore. “Unfortunately the ones we're losing are the ones who can least afford to drop off."

Health professionals say the increase in condom sales is good no matter how you look at it.

"They're also getting that protection against STDs which isn’t offered through hormonal methods," said Moore.

Though condoms can prevent STD’s and unwanted pregnancies, doctors still advise women receive their yearly exam from an OB/GYN anyways.


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