Jun 08 2009


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A condom is an elastic sheath (like an uninflated balloon) that fits over the erect penis. It is made from latex, polyurethane or lamb’s intestines. It traps semen exiting the penis so that it does not get into the vagina. It is the most commonly used birth control method around the world. A further advantage of using a condom is that it reduces the chances of contracting or passing on a sexually transmitted disease (STD) to almost zero.


With perfect use, the condom failure rate is 2%. That means that 2 out of every 100 woman whose partners use a condom perfectly over a 12 months period, will get pregnant. Perfect use means no penis/vagina contact without a condom, no sperm transmission from hands to vagina, care storing, opening, putting on and taking off the condom, inspection of condom after use and no obvious condom failure.

More typical use results in 15 pregnancies per 100 users over a 12 month period

Using hormonal birth control together with condoms are 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Couples using condoms as a primary means of birth control should have emergency birth control pills (like Plan B) available for when the condom fail. The sooner emergency birth control is taken, the more effective it is.



Rolled Up Condom with Reservoir Tip (License: Public Domain)

File:Condom unrolled durex.jpg

Unrolled Condom (License: Public Domain)


Condom Materials


Latex is a natural material that are found under the bark of rubber trees. Latex is also used to make rubber gloves for household use. Because it is a natural material, it contains about 2-3% proteins. Some humans (less than 1%) are allergic to these proteins. Symptoms of an Latex allergy are:

  • Hives or welts
  • Swelling of affected area
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Reddened, itchy or teary eyes
  • Sore throat, hoarse voice
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath (asthma)
  • If exposure to latex continues, allergy symptoms may include a severe and life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis

There are other types of condoms available for those with Latex allergies. Remember that either the male or female (or both) partners can be allergic to latex.

According to the CDC, latex condoms are the only condoms that can prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. You must use it every time and use it perfectly to be fully covered.

Latex have a rubbery smell that can be off-putting for sexual partners.

Latex condoms have a limited shelf life and react negatively to heat and pressure. It can also not be used with oil based lubricants. Oil based lubricants can also cause a yeast infection so it is good practice to avoid them near the Vulva and Vagina. The following are considered oil based lubricants because they contain glycerin:

  • Vaseline,
  • Mineral oil
  • Baby oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cold creams
  • Lotions

Use water based lubricants (like Astroglide, KY Jelly, Probe, Wet, Liquid Silk) or silicone based lubricants (like Eros, Wet Platinum, ID Millennium) with latex condoms. Latex condoms may also come pre lubricated. Check the packaging. It is anyways a good idea to have extra lubricant on hand. In general water based lubricants are the cheapest. If you use a silicone based lubricant, please remember that it will break down silicone based sex toys. Water based lubricants is thus by far the lubricant of choice. These lubricants can normally be bought at the same place you get your condoms.


Polyurethane condoms are the newest type of condoms. Polyurethane is a synthetic and manufactured material. Polyurethane condoms are stronger and thinner than latex condoms and it does not have the rubbery smell associated with it. It may make a crinkly sound however. Polyurethane condoms have a longer shelf life and are less sensitive to heat. It can also be used with all lubricants and conduct heat better than latex for a more natural feeling. Polyurethane condoms does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.


Even though these condoms are called Lamb Skin Condoms, they are actually made of lamb intestines. This sounds worse than it is. Remember that animal intestines are used to make sausage (the intestine is filled with meat).  Lambskin condoms have been around the longest. These condoms are ideal for people that have a latex allergy. Because it is a natural material, it conducts heat well. It is however porous – it keeps semen in but it DOES NOT PROTECT FROM STDs or AIDS.

Condom Textures

Condoms come in smooth, ribbed or knobbed textures on the outside. The texture is for the female’s benefit. Only the outer third of the Vagina makes close contact with the penis shaft and have nerve endings (feeling). Some condoms have a larger head to make the top of the Vagina feel full when the penis is fully inserted. The top of the Vagina expands (called ‘tenting’) close to orgasm and many woman desire to feel full and filled up there before orgasm.

Condom Sizes

A condom should fit tight and cover the full length of the penis that is going to be inserted into the Vagina. If not, it can slip of or fluids from the woman can come in contact with the uncovered skin and an STD can be transmitted to or from the male.

Condoms come in three sizes. Normal is the vast majority of condoms. Because condoms are elastic, the regular condoms fit the vast majority of men. The other sizes are XXL which is longer and Magnum which is wider. Before using a condom for sexual intercourse, find out which condom will fit you. A condom that is too small will make you uncomfortable and interfere with your ability to orgasm. A condom that is too large can slip off and leave you unprotected against pregnancy and STDs and AIDS.

Condom Flavors and Colors

Some condoms are flavored with flavored lubricants and are colored to match the flavoring, for example pink strawberry. At least these condoms does not smell rubbery.



How to use a condom

New condoms are rolled up and come packaged in foil packets.

  • A condom can only be put on an erect penis
  • Make sure that the condom did not expire (look at the date printed on the foil package).
  • If the package is damaged, get another one
  • Do not open the foil packet with your teeth or a sharp object.
  • Pull out the condom and make sure it is intact and did not get damaged when opening the package
  • You can place a dollop of sex lubricant (water based) inside the condom. This will improve its ability to transmit feeling and heat to the penis.
  • Put the condom over the tip of the penis head. Make sure the rolled up portion is on the outside.
  • Pinch the tip of the condom (the reservoir) to keep it open above the head of the penis. This reservoir is there to allow the semen to be ejaculated without bursting the condom
  • Form a ring around the condom with your fingers and roll down the condom to the base of the penis while keeping the tip pinched above the penis head
  • If something goes wrong in the process, throw away the condom and start with a new one.

After sex

  • Pull out the penis from the vagina before the penis goes limp
  • Use the fingers on the penis base to make sure the used condom moves with the penis and does not stay behind in the vagina or anus
  • Pull the used condom off the penis and make sure it is still intact.
  • Tie a knot at the mouth of the condom to make sure the contents stays inside. Wrap the condom in a tissue or toilet paper and throw into the trash.
  • Wash the penis and the hands to prevent semen from getting close to vagina after the condom has been removed.
  • Peeing will flush all live sperm from the urethra and make future pre-ejaculate vagina friendly

Do not reuse condoms.


How to put on a Condom (Author: Permu License: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)





Durex – Condom manufacturer

Trojan – Condom manufacturer

Condom – Wikipedia

Condoms – Planned Parenthood

CondoMania – Online Condom Store

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