A condom is a type of birth control (contraceptive) that is worn during intercourse to prevent pregnancy and the spread of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as:
See also: Female condoms
Other than a vasectomy, the condom is the only available method of birth control for men.
A condom blocks sperm from coming in contact with the inside of the vagina, where it could reach an egg. (If sperm reaches an egg, pregnancy can result.) A condom also prevents disease-causing substances from spreading from one person to another.
The male condom is a thin cover that fits over a man's erect penis. Condoms are made of:
HOW WELL DOES A CONDOM WORK?
If a condom is used regularly and correctly, it should prevent pregnancy 97% of the time, and prevent the spread of most STDs. The actual effectiveness among users, however, is only 80 - 90%. This is due to:
Condoms that contain spermicides may slightly further reduce the risk of pregnancy. However, they are no more likely to reduce the risk of HIV or STDs than condoms lubricated with other substances.
Condoms are available without a prescription and are inexpensive. You can buy them at most drugstores, in vending machines in some restrooms, by mail order, and at certain health care clinics.
HOW TO USE A MALE CONDOM
For the best protection, the condom must be put on before the penis comes into contact with or enters the vagina (because pre-ejaculation fluids carry both sperm and disease).
Prophylactics; Rubbers; Male condoms
Espey E, Ogburn T, Fotieo D. Contraception: What every internist should know. Med Clin North Am. 2008; 92:1037-1058.
Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care Clinical Effectiveness Unit. Male and female condoms. London (UK): Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care: 2007 Jan 17. Accessed 2/12/2010.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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