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soon as ejaculation has occurred to ensure it does not slip off and to prevent any sperm from escaping as the penis is withdrawn.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 / 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
- Hormone free
- 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)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.