Condoms have been in use since ancient times (Casanova was the first to popularize their use), and the first were made of linen or animal intestines. The advent of vulcanized rubber in the 1840's brought mass productions and the term "rubber"
There are many types of condoms available. Most condoms are made
of latex rubber, but some are made from polyurethane or
even animal tissue ("natural skin"). They may be
lubricated, ribbed, or treated with spermicide. Condoms may
be purchased without a prescription at any drug store, and are often found in vending machines. Condoms are convenient and easy to use and, when used correctly, can protect both partners from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Average Failure Rate: 15%
The condom is a thin shield that is worn on the penis.
It traps the semen expelled from the penis during intercourse,
preventing sperm from entering the vagina. A man must put on
a condom while he has an erection but before intercourse.
Afterward, he should withdraw immediately to prevent condom leakage.
Although condoms can be effective, they sometimes
break during intercourse. For this reason it is suggested
that condoms be stored in a cool, dry place; oil-based lubricants
(such as Vaseline or baby oil) should not be used as they can
weaken latex condoms. Even medication for female yeast infection can cause condom failure.
Feds rethink condom efficacy
The online fact sheet on condoms by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at www.cdc.gov, used to begin with this statement: "Condoms are effective in preventing HIV and other STDs." The fact sheet was removed from the site in 2002 and was later replaced with one that states, "The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse ..." or be in a long-term monogamous relationship with someone whom you know is not infected.
The new fact sheet also omits descriptions of the various condom types, information on which lubricants are safe to use with latex, instructions for how to properly use a condom, and references to anal and oral sex, for which public-health groups recommend condoms. A CDC spokesperson said the new fact sheet is more science-based than its predecessor.
Source: "Condoms: Extra protection," Consumer Reports, February 2005.
Condoms, especially the spermicidal variety, increase the risk
of urinary tract infections in women. In fact spermicidal
condoms have not been shown to be more effective than condoms
without spermicide. Some men and women find the latex in condoms
irritating due to allergy, and spermicidal condoms can worsen
the allergenic properties of the latex. For sensitive
individuals, non-spermicidal polyurethane or natural skin
condoms may be more acceptable. Natural skin condoms, however,
are expensive and do not protect against disease, and
polyurethane condoms are more likely to break.
Most men report reduced sensitivity during intercourse, some men find they
cannot retain an erection when a condom is used, and condoms
may affect the spontaneity of intercourse. When used
consistently by married couples, condoms can be very effective,
but failure rates are much higher for unmarried couples and
If a condom is to be effective, the most
important rule is to use it every single time. A new one must
be worn if intercourse is repeated.
More about safer sex.
Natural Family Planning
Condoms for Women
Instructions for Proper Condom Use
Frequently Asked Questions about Condoms
Over the Counter Contraceptives
Different Kinds of Contraceptives
Use of Contraceptives
Contraceptives For Men
Safe Sex For Gay Men
Safe Sex Without A Condom