The condom has many slang names: "rubber", "wrapper", "raincoat" are a few. All of these terms refer to a sheath placed over the erect penis before penetration, preventing pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm. Because they act as a barrier, condoms prevent direct vaginal contact with the semen, infectious genital secretions, and genital lesions and discharges.
Most condoms are made from latex rubber. Lambskin condoms (made from lamb intestines) and polyurethane (plastic) condoms are also available.
Except for abstinence, latex condoms are the most effective method for reducing the risk of infection from the viruses that cause AIDS, other HIV-related illnesses, and other STDs. When used consistently, they are at least 85% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Tips for proper condom use include:
- Use a condom for every act of intercourse.
- If the penis is uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back before putting the condom on.
- Put condom on after the penis is erect (hard) and before any contact is made between the penis and any part of your partner's body.
- If using a spermicide, put some inside the condom tip.
- If the condom does not have a reservoir (space) at the tip, pinch the tip enough to leave a half-inch space for semen to collect.
- While pinching the half-inch tip, place the condom against the head of the penis and unroll it all the way to the base. Put more spermicide or water-based lubricant on the outside.
- If you feel the condom break while you are having sex, stop immediately and pull out.
- Do not continue until you have put on a new condom and used more spermicide.
- After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, grip the rim of the condom and carefully withdraw from your partner.
- To remove the condom from the penis, pull it off gently, being careful semen doesn't spill.
- Wrap the used condom in a tissue and throw it in the trash where others won't handle it. Because condoms cause trouble in sewers, don't flush them down the toilet.
- Be aware of drugs and alcohol. They can affect your judgment, so you may forget to use a condom. They may even affect your ability to use a condom properly.
- Check the expiration date on the condom package. Do not use if expired. Also, avoid keeping condoms in your wallet - the pressure and heat may shorten their life span.