One of the most popular forms of contraception, condoms are a simple and cheap way to protect yourself against unplanned pregnancies and STIs. They work by catching the sperm as it is released and stopping it from entering the vagina at all. The tip has a reservoir which collects the man’s semen and prevents it from entering the vagina when he ejaculates. Along with female condoms they are the only form of contraception to protect you against STIs as well as pregnancy. The most important thing is that you use a condom every time you have sex.
Condoms come in all shapes, sizes, and for the sensitive, materials, so even with allergies or sensitive skin, there’s a condom to suit you comfortably.
Using a condom is easy, just unravel the condom onto an erect penis right before sex and there you go. Once it’s all over and the condom has done its job, pull it out before the penis softens. It should be held against the base of the penis as soon as ejaculation has occurred to ensure it does not slip off and to prevent any sperm from escaping as the penis is withdrawn. Use it only once and then throw it away.
It’s important to check what kind of lube is suitable for use with each condom’s material as some can have adverse effects on the material. For example, oil-based lube and latex aren’t friends, and putting them together can cause the condom to break or slip off, just an FYI.
PROS AND CONS
It can be used on demand
It can be easily carried with you
It isn’t affected by other medications
It can be used when breastfeeding
It’s easy to use
It’s the best protection against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
It interrupts sex
It can tear or come off during sex if not used properly
Some people are allergic to latex condoms
It may lead to irritation or allergic reactions (if you are allergic to latex, you can try condoms made of polyurethane)
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Are condoms effective against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
Yes. Condoms have been proven to provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, condoms are the only contraceptive method that also provides STI protection. Condoms provide different levels of risk reduction for different STIs because infections are spread differently — some are spread by contact with bodily fluids while others are spread by skin to skin contact.
In general, research shows that condoms are most effective in preventing those STIs that are spread by bodily fluids, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. Condoms also can reduce the risk of contracting diseases spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV). However, condoms only can protect against these diseases if the sores are in areas covered by the condom.
How are condoms tested?
There are a range of tests performed by both regulatory agencies and the condom manufacturers. These include electronic testing, the water leak test, the air burst test and the strength test.
How can I check a condom is safe to use?
Check that the use-by date has not expired, that they carry a standards approval mark (either FDA, ISO, CE or the British Standard Kite Mark), and that they have been properly stored.
Are female condoms harder to use than male condoms?
As with most barrier methods, it can take a bit of practice to use this method correctly. As long as you are clear on how to use them, you should get the hang of it.
How often do condoms fail?
Compared to modern hormonal methods, condoms are less reliable and effective in protecting against pregnancy but they are the only method that will protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS.
How much protection do condoms give against pregnancy? If a condom breaks what are the risks of pregnancy?
When used as directed (i.e. the condom doesn't split or burst), they can be very effective in preventing both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If a condom breaks and no other form of contraception such as the contraceptive pill is used, then there is a risk that a woman may become pregnant, so you should consider using emergency contraception. There is also a risk of contracting a STI.
Is it possible to get different sizes of condoms?
Condoms are made in different lengths and widths, and different manufacturers produce varying sizes. There is no standard length for condoms, though those made from natural rubber will in addition always stretch if necessary to fit the length of the man's erect penis. The width of a condom can also vary. Some condoms have a slightly smaller width to give a ''closer'' fit, whereas others will be slightly larger.
Can you use a condom under water?
If you are going to use a condom under water it is important that you put the condom on before you get into the water. Also, if the water contains chemicals such as chlorine, or additives such as soap, bath oil or bubble bath then this may affect the latex.
Is using two condoms better than one in avoiding pregnancy?
Using two condoms at the same time-either two male condoms or a male and female condom- is not a good idea as the friction may result in one or both of the condoms tearing. If you want to take extra precautions against pregnancy when having sex, and are concerned about the possibility of a condom breaking it is better to use another form of contraception. For example, using a contraceptive pill, patch, vaginal ring or IUS as well as a condom will ensure that you both have double protection against pregnancy as well as protection against STIs.
What is the best way to get condoms?
It will depend on which country you are in, but in most countries, you can buy condoms from chemists and supermarkets. You can also get them from family planning clinics and some doctors.
Does using a male or female condom make sex less pleasurable?
Some people find that condoms interfere with spontaneity and sensation, but they can be fun to use once you have got used to how they need to be put on.