Condoms and Pregnancy Prevention
Latex Condoms and the Prevention of STDs
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)—generally caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia
- Vaginitis resulting from infections such as trichomoniasis
Types of Condoms
- Size —Condoms come in standard size (which fit most men), extra-large, and snug size.
- Shape —Some condoms have a rounded tip; others have a nipple (reservoir) at the end to hold the semen.
- Thickness —Extra-strength condoms are best for men who have anal sex or who tend to break condoms. Extra-thin condoms may allow more sensation, but they may break more easily.
- Lubrication —Many condoms are lubricated with spermicide, which helps to kill sperm and certain disease-causing germs. Lubricated condoms should not be used for oral sex.
- Color —Condoms come in many colors. However, this does not influence the effectiveness of the condom.
- Flavored —Flavored condoms have a mild, often mint flavor, and are worn when receiving oral sex.
- Texture —Some condoms have ripples or studs for extra sensation.
- Material —Most condoms are made of latex. If you or your partner has a latex allergy, options include animal tissue (usually sterilized sheep intestine) or synthetic polyurethane.
When to Use a Condom
How to Use a Male Condom
- Handle condoms gently and store them in a cool, dry place so they do not become breakable.
- Do not continually keep condoms in your back pocket, wallet, or car.
- Do not use a condom that is too small or too large for you.
- Pay attention to the expiration date.
- Be careful not to tear the condom while unwrapping it.
- Put the condom on the erect penis before sexual activity begins.
- Unless the condom has a built-in nipple, leave a ½-inch space at the tip to collect semen.
- Be sure to pinch air out of the tip with one hand.
- Unroll the condom over the penis with the other hand, and roll it all the way down to the base of the penis.
- Smooth out any air bubbles.
- Lubricate the outside of the condom. Do not use lubricants that contain oil, such as Vaseline, baby oils, or vegetable oils, because they can weaken the rubber. Use a water-based lubricant, such as KY Jelly or Silk-e.
- Pull out before your penis becomes soft.
- To avoid spilling semen, hold the condom against the base of the penis while you pull out.
- Throw the condom away.
- Wash your penis with soap and water before embracing again.
- Pull out quickly and replace the condom.
- If semen leaks out, wash it away with soap and water.
- If semen leaks into the vagina, you should consider using emergency contraception (see details below).
Benefits and Disadvantages of Male Condoms
- Helps prevent pregnancy and STDs
- Is inexpensive and easy to get
- Does not require a prescription
- May help a man stay erect longer
Usually has no side effects.
- However, people who are allergic to latex should try polyurethane condoms. Condoms without spermicidal lubricant should be used for those who are sensitive to spermicides.
- May dull sensation
- Can interfere with spontaneity
Benefits and Disadvantages of Female Condoms
- The woman controls use.
- The female version is more comfortable for men and causes less decrease in sensation.
- It may offer greater protection from STDs to the external genitals compared to male condoms.
- This version is more convenient and allows for greater spontaneity because it can be inserted well in advance of intercourse.
- They are easy to get and do not require a prescription.
- Less effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs than the male condom
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- Difficult to insert or remove
- Relatively expensive
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Planned Parenthood http://www.plannedparenthood.org
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health http://www.cfsh.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Condom. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/birth-control/condom. Accessed March 23, 2015.
Condom fact sheet in brief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/brief.html. Updated: March 25, 2013. Accessed March 23, 2015.
Condom use, types, and sizes. Avert web site. Available at: http://www.avert.org/condom-use-types-sizes.htm. Accessed March 23, 2015.
Emergency contraception. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 3, 2014. Accessed March 23, 2015.
Fact sheet for public health personnel. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.html. Updated March 25, 2013. Accessed March 23, 2015.
FDA approves Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive without a prescription for women 15 years of age and older. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm350230.htm. Updated April 30, 2013. Accessed March 23, 2015.
Workowski KA, Berman S, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2015 -
- Update Date: 03/15/2015 -