Male and female condoms: Uses and risks

A condom is a method of birth control that works by forming a barrier and blocking the route that sperm would take to fertilize an egg. It also helps prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

Use of a condom can effectively reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, and it offers some protection against genital warts and herpes.

There are male and female condoms, and they can be made from latex rubber, polyurethane, or lambskin. The male condom is more commonly used. It is sometimes referred to as a “rubber” or “prophylactic.”

Used correctly, condoms are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, but since people do make mistakes, they are around 82 percent effective in actual use. Because of this, people are advised to use another form of contraceptive with the condom.

How do they work?

A condom offers protection from unwanted pregnancy and STIs.

A condom creates a physical barrier that prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. The barrier makes sure fertilization and pregnancy do not occur.

Condoms are mainly from very thin latex rubber or polyurethane, and they contain a lubricant and a spermicide that either destroys or damages the sperm. Extra spermicide is also available in most pharmacies.

To use a condom effectively, it should be placed before the penis touches the vagina, in other words, before skin-to-skin genital contact occurs. This is because sperm can come out of the penis before ejaculation.

The use of condoms can significantly reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Planned Parenthood suggest using them for vaginal, oral, and anal sex, as an STI is not only spread through the genitals.

Using a condom with another type of contraceptive, such as the contraceptive pill, offers additional protection from both pregnancy and STIs.

The condom must be placed correctly before sexual contact is made, and carefully removed immediately after ejaculation.

[female condom]
A female condom is an alternative option.

As with a male condom, it is important to check that the device has not passed its expiry date.

While holding the soft inner ring between the finger and the thumb, place the closed-end ring into the vagina.

Push the condom as far into the vagina as possible, using two fingers. The outer ring should always remain lying against the outside of the vagina. If it goes into the vagina during sex, it needs to be adjusted so it is outside again.

When the penis goes into the vagina, it is important to check that it does not slip in between the condom and the vaginal wall.

After use, carefully twist the condom and pull the end of it to remove it, making sure no sperm enters the vagina.

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