A male condom a contraceptive device made out of a thin sheath that covers the penis during intercourse.
A male condom is usually made of one of the following materials:
- Rubber (latex)
- Plastic (polyurethane): the best alternative for people allergic
- to latex
Male condoms can vary greatly in color, size, and amount of lubrication and spermicide.
The male condom protects against infection and pregnancy by covering the penis and preventing direct contact between the penis and vagina, as well as collecting the semen and preventing it from entering the vagina.
The male condom is rolled over the erect or hardened penis and prevents against direct contact between the penis and vagina. The condom must be removed before the erection ends or the sperm can leak out. Use the condom once only, then throw it in the garbage. Do not flush it down the toilet.
The latex condoms can protect against STIs including HIV. Testing of the plastic, polyurethane condoms suggests that they also protect against infections; however, this is not definite. Lambskin condoms do not protect against HIV and other STIs.
A male condom, if used correctly significantly decreases the likelihood of pregnancy. Using spermicide in addition to the condom improves pregnancy prevention. For best protection, use the condom before any sperm — or pre-ejaculate — comes in contact with the vagina.
Under typical use, a male condom can prevent a pregnancy 85% of the time, and with perfect use over 95% of pregnancies are prevented.
- The condom is the best method for reducing the risk of STIs for those who choose to have intercourse. (As always, abstinence is the only 100 percent guarantee).
- Allows men to share responsibility for pregnancy prevention and protection against STDs.
- Can be easily obtained and does not require a prescription.
Disadvantages are that some people are allergic to latex. Polyurethane condoms can be used as an alternative. Some individuals argue that condoms reduce sensitivity and pleasure during intercourse. Some people dislike interrupting sex to put it on. Condoms may break if they are put on incorrectly.
- The male condom cannot be used in conjunction with the female condom.
- Condoms should not be used with oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline, or mineral and vegetable oil. Such lubricants damage the condom or increase breakage.
- Condoms (particularly latex ones) should be protected from the heat, which can weaken them or cause breakage.
- Some condoms do have a "shelf life" — after which they are too weak to use.