The male condom is made out of latex and is shaped like a penis. It is placed on an erect penis prior to inserting the penis into the vagina. This creates a barrier between the sperm and cervix (entrance to the uterus).
Condoms are used widely for preventing pregnancy and for preventing sexually transmitted infections. The use effectiveness of preventing pregnancy with male condoms is 95-98%. Use effectiveness is not based on theory, but from actual use, so it includes method failure, or women who do not use condoms with every intercourse. Spermicides (see below) can enhance effectiveness when used with condoms.
For heterosexual couples and gay men, condoms are also highly effective against preventing the exchange of fluids (semen, blood, and saliva) between partners, reducing the chance of spreading sexually transmitted infections. Condoms can be used during penis and vagina sex, oral and anal sex, and when using sex toys. The condom should not be reused, but thrown away after the man ejaculates inside it or after using it with sex toys.
Possible effects that may occur from using condoms are an allergic reaction to the latex in the condom. If this happens (itching, rash, burning, and swelling of the skin that has come into contact with the condom), try a non-latex condom available in pharmacies, or obtained at the WHS clinic.
The Female Condom is a soft, loose-fitting, tube-shaped pouch with a ring at each end that lines the vagina. When inserting the female condom, the inner ring is placed behind the pubic bone, (similar to how a diaphragm fits). This helps keep the condom in place during sexual activity. The other ring stays outside the vagina. Lubricant must be added inside the condom bag so that a penis, fingers or sex toys will glide over the synthetic rubber. The use effectiveness of the female condom is 79-95% effective in preventing pregnancy.
The female condom is the only FDA-approved device for women that provides both protection against pregnancy, and prevention against STI's and HIV. Plus, the outer ring of the female condom covers more of the vulva; this may provide extra protection from herpes, and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), or any other STI can be transmitted through skin to skin contact. This is to prevent the skin of the vulva of the woman coming into contact the partner’s skin. The female condom can be purchased over-the counter, or obtained at WHS clinic.
Some women may prefer to use the female condom because it is under their control, and or because some men object to wearing male condoms. It is made of synthetic material instead of latex, so people allergic to latex can use the female condom. Also, it can be inserted up to 8 hours into the vagina before sexual activity to allow for more spontaneity.
Combining Methods to Increase Effectiveness
To enhance effectiveness of male and female condoms, contraceptive spermicides such as: foam, film, suppositories, or jelly can be used with condoms. Spermicides are available over the counter or at a WHS clinic. They have a chemical in them, 9 oxil 9, that kills sperm. Oil and petroleum based products (spermicides or lubricants) should not be used because they weaken the condoms; instead, water based products should be used. Also, it is recommended by manufacturers that male and female condoms should not be used together (they might attach to each other). Spermicides can cause an allergic reaction in some people (irritation, rash, and swelling). Changing brands of spermicide often resolves this problem.
Many women choose to have the morning-after-pill in their possession in case the condom breaks or comes off. In addition, some women use awareness of ovulation (fertility awareness) by either abstaining from penis/vagina sex when ovulation is occurring, or using condoms during their fertile days. Condoms and spermicide are a good way for women to use in-between birth control methods, or in-between partners, or if they have missed taking birth control pills.
Male and female condoms are the only way to block HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Condoms also reduce the spread of many STI's.
For more Information on Safer Sex: