Male condom is a sheath made to fit over the erect penis. It collects semen and acts as a barrier preventing passage of sperm into the vagina. The condom is available rolled in individual packets, and is unrolled onto the erect penis before intercourse. Most condoms are made of thin latex rubber. Read how to choose a condom.
When used correctly at every act of intercourse, the condom can be a reasonably effective method of contraception. The latex condom is also an effective barrier to protect against the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STDs), including transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Many different kinds and brands of condoms are available.
They differ in such qualities as:
- Shape (plain, reservoir tip, contoured for fit).
- Color (opaque, transparent, various colors).
- Lubrication (with silicone oil, jellies, powders or non-lubricated).
- Thickness (ultra-thin to standard).
- Texture (smooth, textured or ribbed surface).
The female condom is made of soft pliable polyurethane pre-lubricated with a silicone-based substance (dimethicone). It is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. An inner ring is used for insertion and holds the condom in place high in vagina; an outer ring lies flat and covers the labia during sexual intercourse. After ejaculation, the female condom retains the seminal fluid, preventing it from coming into contact with the cervix.
The contraceptive efficacy of the female condom is within the wide range quoted for other barrier methods, but lower than that of male condoms. Laboratory studies have shown that the female condom is an effective barrier not only to sperm but also to bacteria and viruses including HIV. The female condom is now available in many countries, but use is limited by its high cost. The safety and feasibility of re-use is currently the subject of research. In the meantime, re-use of female condoms is not recommended. However, given the diversity of
cultural and social contexts and personal circumstances under which female condom reuse may be acceptable, feasible and safe, and since the balance of risks and benefits varies according to individual settings, the final decision on whether or not to support reuse of the female condom must ultimately be taken locally.
- Pre-lubricated condoms versus non-lubricated: Without lubrication, there may be more of a chance of intra- vaginal breakage if vaginal lubrication is insufficient.
- Ultra-thin condoms are more prone to breakage. If breakage has been a problem for the couple, advise a different type of condom.
How to use condom – important rules
Effective contraceptive effect depends on how correctly you are following all steps:
- Put on the condom before any genital contact, because otherwise sperm and/or infectious agents may be transmitted.
- Compress the tip of the condom between finger and thumb, and leave a half-inch of latex material at the end of the erect penis. This will leave a space for the ejaculate to collect and will decrease chances of condom breakage.
- Use only spermicides or lubricants given or recommended by the programme. Do not use petroleum jelly (‘Vaseline’), mineral oil, lotions, or other oil-based products for lubrication, because they increase the chance of condom breakage. The use of nonoxynol-9 is not recommended for protection against HIV.
- After ejaculation withdraw the penis from the vagina while it is still erect, and hold the ring of the condom at the base of the penis firmly with the fingers so that the condom will not slip off, releasing the ejaculate.
- If the condom breaks or tears during intercourse, apply spermicide immediately (foam or gel), and consider the use of emergency contraception for protection against pregnancy.
- Handle the condom carefully to avoid punctures; special care should be taken with long fingernails.
- Use a spermicide with the condom for maximum effectiveness.
- Store condoms in a cool, dry place. Do not use a condom if it appears damaged or brittle because it is more likely to break.
- After using the condom once, throw it away in a waste receptacle or toilet, to prevent people, particularly children, from coming in contact with it.
How to choose condoms
Condoms side effects
Side-effects from use of the condom are infrequent. Occasionally clients are allergic to latex rubber, or to the lubricant or spermicide used with the condom. If this cases it would be recommended just to change the type and/or brand. Check vaginal itching.
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