Contraception Barrier Methods Male Condom

The male condom is probably the world’s most famous barrier contraceptive method. A type of thin shield worn over the erect penis, male condoms — generally simply called “condoms” — capture sperm when a man ejaculates and keep them from entering the vagina.

Benefits and Risks of Using a Condom

A condom does more than help prevent pregnancies. The male condom also helps prevent transmission of many STDs, including HIV. You don’t need a prescription to purchase condoms, and they’re portable and readily accessible.

The male condom is also rather inexpensive. Because they prevent disease and unwanted pregnancy, health clinics and AIDS activist groups frequently give them away to promote condom use.

But a condom isn’t foolproof. It can break or tear, and condoms have expiration dates, after which they are more delicate. Although using a condom isn’t complicated, putting one on takes care. Be careful not to tear it when you open the package.

People who are allergic to latex can have allergic reactions to latex condoms. Spermicidal condom use can also increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Effectiveness of Condoms

According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, between 11 and 16 pregnancies are expected for every 100 women with condom use. This translates to an 84-89 percent success rate in preventing pregnancies when a condom is used alone.

Condom “How To:” The Right Condom Use

You should put a condom on an erect penis before penetration, and remove it carefully afterwards. When using a condom, don’t unroll it before putting it on-unroll it over the shaft. As you unroll the male condom, pinch the top to leave room for semen. Proper condom use includes smoothing out air bubbles, which could cause breakage during sex.

Male Condom - Birth Control

Oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly or massage oil (as well as yeast infection medications) can make a latex condom more breakable, so stick with a water-based lubricant.

Condom use should include a new condom for each sex act. To avoid leaks, condoms in place when withdrawing the penis after sex. Condoms don’t do well when carried in wallets. The male condom lasts longer when stored in a cool, dry place.

Using two or more condoms at the same time is not effective. In fact, the friction that may be generated may lead to tears in the condoms.

Condom Types and Features

Condoms can be made from latex, polyurethane and natural skin (lamb intestine). Be aware that natural skin condoms aren’t as effective as other condom types in STD protection. Many condoms have reservoir tips, some come with spermicide, and others are lubricated for easier, more comfortable use.

Condoms are available in a wide variety of styles, fits, colors and even flavors. A condom may be straight-sided, flared, form-fitted or ribbed.

Is Using a Condom for Me?

According to the United Nations Population Fund, roughly 10.4 billion male condoms were used around the world in 2005. It’s clear that a variety of people find using a condom a useful means of contraception.

People who aren’t in stable, monogamous relationships should consider using condoms consistently to avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs. Condom use isn’t right for everyone, however. Those allergic to latex may want to consider another form of contraception.


Avert Staff. (2009). Condoms. Retrieved February 8, 2010, from the Avert Web site:

ASHASTD Staff/ (2010). Condom overview. Retrieved February 8, 2010, from the ASHA Web site:

Epigee Staff. (2009). FAQs on condoms. Retrieved February 8, 2010, from the Epigee Web site:

National Institutes of Health Staff. (2008). Contraception. Retrieved February 8, 2010, from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Web site: