HOW does a condom WORK? The condom has been around for thousands of years. The Egyptians had a version of it made from sheep skin. The concept is simple. The condom covers the full length of the penis (like a sock covers a foot) and prevents sperm from entering the vagina. Some condoms have chemicals on them which kill sperm. These types of chemicals are called spermicides. Spermicide is an ingredient used in diaphragm creams and jellies, contraceptive foam, and suppositories. It kills sperm, certain bacteria, and some viruses. Spermicide should be put on the condom or in the vagina before sexual intercourse to give extra protection against pregnancy and STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). You can buy a spermicide in a drug store or a supermarket without a doctor's prescription. Make sure the spermicide you buy can be used with a condom. Not all of them can.
Certain other creams and jellies are only used for extra lubrication (to make the walls of the vagina more slippery). Lubricants do not prevent pregnancy or STDs/HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). When using a condom avoid using oil based lubricants such as baby oil, hand lotions, Crisco, Vaseline, etc. Those kinds of products can weaken (dissolve) the condom and cause it to break!
HOW IS a condom USED? A condom is rolled onto a hard penis (all the way down to the base) before the penis gets near or in the vagina. Always leave room at the tip of the condom to collect sperm. After ejaculation, the man must hold on to the rim of the condom when he withdraws his no-longer erect penis. Otherwise the condom might slip off and sperm will get in the vagina.
Each condom can only be used once. That means one condom for each ejaculation. You can't rinse out a condom and re-use it.
Using foam with a condom makes it more effective against pregnancy. When using a condom avoid using oil based lubricants such as baby oil, hand lotions, Crisco, Vaseline, etc. Those kinds of products can weaken (dissolve) the condom and cause it to break.
Benefits to using a male condom: Different condoms are made out of different materials. Those made out of latex protect against STDs/HIV. Using condoms causes no major health concerns. No doctor's examination is required. Condoms don't cost very much and can be bought in any drugstore without a doctor's prescription.
Concerns connected to using a condom: The sexual experience may have to be interrupted while the condom is put on. Also, allergic reactions to spermicides or condoms can occasionally cause burning and itching to either partner. If this happens, try another kind of condom, spermicide or a totally different method of birth control. If this happens, try a different brand of condom.
Remember, unused condoms don't last for ever. Before buying and using a condom, check the expiration printed on the package. Carrying a condom around in a wallet for a long time is not a good idea - your body heat will deteriorate the latex. Even brand new condoms can break if they are not stored and used properly.
Effectiveness: This depends on how carefully partners use it. In a single year, for every 100 women who use condoms, between 2 and 12 of them will get pregnant. Using a condom along with spermicidal foam, the effectiveness rate is higher (98-99%). That means, in a year, for every 100 women using condoms with spermicidal foam, 1-2 or them will get pregnant.
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last updated January 30, 2008
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