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condom - male

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Male condoms

Alternative Names 
prophylactic, rubber, french-letter

A male condom is a flexible sheath placed over the penis during intercourse to prevent pregnancy. Using a condom can reduce the risk to both partners against sexually transmitted diseases.

What is the information for this topic? 
Condoms are usually made of latex rubber. They can also be made of other types of synthetic rubber, or from natural lambskin. Condoms are sold in pharmacies, supermarkets and many other places in a variety of sizes, colours, and textures. The condoms may come with or without a spermicide, which provides extra protection against pregnancy.

When used correctly, condoms are more than 95% effective in preventing pregnancy and diseases, including AIDS, herpes, and genital warts. The condom prevents sperm from coming into contact with the other person, as well as other tissue and body contact. A spermicide may increase the condom's ability to prevent pregnancy and some sexually transmitted diseases.

Here are some important facts about using male condoms:
  • Latex condoms are the best type for disease prevention.
  • Condoms should be stored in a cool dry place. They should be thrown away and not used if they have expired, the package looks damaged, or they have dried out. They should be handled carefully.
  • Condoms with lubrication, spermicide, and a reservoir tip provide more safety.
  • Any added lubricant should be water-based and not have oil in it. Lubricants like petroleum jelly, shortening, or baby oil should not be used. Spermicidal creams, foams, and jellies can be used with condoms.
  • A condom is placed on the man's erect penis before sexual intercourse. The condom should be removed from the package carefully to avoid damaging it. It is unrolled over the head of the penis until it won't unroll any further. No air should be trapped underneath the condom, but a small pocket of air should be left at the tip.
  • After intercourse, the sheathed penis should be withdrawn while still erect. The condom should be held at the base of the penis during withdrawal.
  • All condoms should be disposed of properly in the garbage bin.
  • Condoms must never be reused.
  • If a condom breaks during intercourse, a new one should be put on. More spermicidal cream or jelly can be used. Additional measures to prevent contraception may be needed. This can include the morning-after pill.
Condoms can sometimes cause irritation or allergic reactions. If this happens, the person should see a doctor.

Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 12/06/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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