A male condom is a thin sheath placed over the erect penis. When left in place during sexual intercourse, oral sex or anal sex, male condoms are an effective way to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Male condoms are also an effective way to prevent pregnancy.
Condoms, also called rubbers, are usually made of latex, but some are made from polyurethane or lambskin. Latex and polyurethane condoms provide the most protection against STIs.
Male condoms are simple to use, inexpensive and widely available. They are available with or without a lubricant and come in a variety of lengths, shapes, widths, thicknesses and colors. Some condoms are textured to increase sensation.
If you use them correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are very effective at preventing pregnancy and the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Condoms also reduce the risk of infection from other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Condoms don't have the side effects found in some forms of female contraception, such as birth control pills or shots, or potential complications of an intrauterine device (IUD). They're available without a prescription, so it's easy to have one on hand when you need it.
Male condoms are generally safe and effective. However, there are a few things you should consider:
Male condoms are available without a prescription. They're sold in many stores and from vending machines in some restrooms. Condoms might be less expensive or might be free at family planning clinics. School nurses and university health centers often have condoms available for free.
Finding a type of condom that works well for you can take a little trial and error. Fit is important. If it's too tight, a condom is more likely to break. If it's too loose, it might slip off. Some men find that condoms decrease sensation or are uncomfortable to wear. You might prefer a certain type of condom because it's more comfortable for you or provides greater sensation during sex.
Some condoms are lubricated with nonoxynol-9, a substance that kills sperm (spermicide) and is meant to help prevent pregnancy. However, condoms without spermicide are a better option for several reasons:
Male condoms don't last forever, and they have to be used properly to protect against pregnancy and STIs. Follow these tips for safe and effective condom use:
It's important to use male condoms carefully, correctly and consistently. Here's how to correctly use a condom:
Male condoms are an effective form of birth control. However, about 1 out of 50 couples who use condoms correctly will get pregnant in a year. Chances of pregnancy increase if you don't always wear a condom during intercourse, or you use condoms incorrectly.
Condoms are effective at preventing the transmission of most STIs, although there's still some risk. When used correctly, a condom creates a barrier that limits your exposure — and your partner's exposure — to semen or other body fluids that can carry STIs.