What is a condom?
A condom is a sheath that is closed on one end and worn over the penis during sexual intercourse to collect pre-cum and semen during and after a man ejaculates, which prevents sperm from getting into the vagina. These are also called male condoms. Similar to a male condom is a female condom. A female condom is a loose-fitting polyurethane sleeve that is closed at one end. The closed end is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse.
Are condoms effective?
Condom effectiveness - If used properly, and during every sexual experience, condoms are a very effective form of birth control. According to global statistics their effectiveness is 98%. That means that each year only 2 out of 100 women will get pregnant if their partner uses condoms correctly. Although, no form of contraception can guarantee 100% effectiveness, latex condoms are a very effective and inexpensive birth control option available to everyone without medical prescription. When used properly latex condoms can lower the risk of spreading many sexually transmitted diseases. More importantly, condoms do not have the serious side effects for their users that are sometimes associated with other birth control methods. Some people are sensitive to latex but this is easily solved by choosing a different condom material because several are available.Condoms are the only form of protection that can both protect against pregnancy as well as help to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.
What materials are condoms made from?
Most condoms available today are made of latex. Latex has excellent elasticity. Condom manufacturers did testing and made technological advances in order to offer condoms made of other synthetic materials not containing natural rubber latex. These non-latex condoms have similar or even better characteristics to latex condoms. In the early 1990's the first polyurethane condom was introduced by Durex. Trojan, the best selling brand in America, followed later with their non-latex, also polyurethane condoms. In 2008 Lifestyles brand came out with another revolutionary material for condom manufacture, polyisoprene. Polyisoprene is a synthetic material that does not contain natural rubber latex and is a great choice for people who are allergic to natural latex. In 2009 Durex started selling their fist polyisoprene condoms also.
Latex condoms are widely used and are the most well-known among the general public. Latex condoms can be used with water-based lubricants but never with oil-based lubricants because they weaken and break down the latex. There are also some people allergic to latex so they can easily choose condoms that have no latex allergens.
Advantages: good elasticity, widest selection
Disadvantages: not compatible with oil-based lubricants, contains latex allergens
Polyurethane condoms are thinner than latex condoms and also have the ability to transform body heat better than latex condoms.
Advantages: transmit body heat, odorless, clear, no latex allergens, strong, compatible with water-based and oil-based lubricants
Disadvantages: not stretchy, selection is very limited
Polyisoprene is the latest material used to make condoms. Polyisoprene has all the characteristics of latex condoms plus there are other advantages.
Advantages: soft material, a non-latex material (for people with a latex allergy), has good elasticity, has no latex allergens, is strong, and is compatible with water-based lubricants.
Disadvantage: not compatible with oil-based lubricants.
Lamb intestine condoms
Lamb intestine condoms – Lamb intestines are the original and oldest condom material. These condoms contain no latex and therefore may be used by latex-sensitive people. These condoms are compatible with water-based lubricants. There is one very important disadvantage-- condoms made of lamb intestines do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Pores in the natural material are simply too large so they allow STD bacteria to enter the body. So Naturalamb condoms are for pregnancy protection ONLY! Condoms made of natural materials have several names, including sheepskin condoms, naturalamb condoms, lambskin condoms or natural skin.
How are condoms lubricated?
Condoms are generally come already pre-lubricated but some condoms are lubricated more than others. Condoms without lubrication are also available. Everyone should know that condom effectiveness increases if used with additional lubricant. Oil-based lubricants should never be used with latex and polyisoprene condoms because oil may weaken the condom material.
Non-lubricated condoms – also called dry condoms-- are not made in as many varieties as lubricated condoms. Though not as popular, major condom brands still have them in their line of products. Using water-based lubricant along with this type of condom is recommended to avoid condom breakage.Water-based lubricated
Water-based lubricated condoms
Water-based lubricated condoms are made in a wide variety and are the most popular condoms. Some condoms are only slightly lubricated while other condoms have extra lubricant added. Additional lubricant can be used to avoid condoms breakage.
Spermicide lubricated condoms
Spermicide lubricated condoms - In the past years there have been debates about whether or not using condoms lubricated with spermicide can actually harm the user. Nonoxynol-9 is the most commonly used spermicide in the United States and the fact is that if you use condoms lubricated with spermicide more than once a day you will may feel certain discomfort like redness or itching. Condom packs with spermicide are clearly marked so you can avoid them if you can. It is always better to use a spermicide condom if your only other choice is no condom.
There are several sizes of condoms on the market. The length and width of a condom differ depending on brand. It is up to you to choose the right one. In order to do so it is important to know the correct measurements of the penis. Proper measurement includes the width at a base and length. Condoms are usually separated in to the following categories: Small, Regular, Large, Extra Large
When buying a condom the width is very important because condoms that are too wide can slip during intercourse or, on the opposite side, condoms that are too small can turn what should be a pleasurable moment into something uncomfortable. Not all manufacturers put this measurement on their condom pack.
The usual length of regular “M” size condom is on average 180mm. The length for S size condoms is usually 160mm. Large and extra large condoms are up to 205mm in length.
Nowadays, a wide selection of condoms is available. Condom types are differentiated by their surface. Latex condoms are either smooth or textured. Textured condoms have a slightly “rough” surface with small studs or ribs along the condom body. Textured condoms became popular because they stimulate sensitive parts of the vagina and penis during intercourse. This type of condom is available in a variety of styles with different placement of studs, and ribs that deliver different sensations for both partners. Other people prefer condoms with a smooth texture for easy gliding in and out.
Condoms are made in different shapes. Each shape has its own feature to deliver different sensations. For example, condoms with a roomier end give men more freedom of movement and a better, more natural experience.
Condom Color & Condom Flavor
Condoms also come in a variety of colors. Although condom color doesn't play any role in condom effectiveness, some people prefer one color over another. Condom colors are available in black, pink, yellow, red, blue, green or just clear. Clear condoms can be a turn-on for some whereas black condoms excite others. Flavored condoms are available for people who like something to taste other than latex. Flavored condoms are a great alternative for safer sex and are popular for oral sex. They come in many flavors from banana, strawberry, chocolate, and blueberry to many others. It's a matter of preference.
There are several condom brands available in the U.S. Market with three being major players.Trojan is the #1 and the most popular brand. Durex is second and Lifestyles is third. Other condom brands like Kimono, ONE, Okamoto (maker of Beyond Seven and Crown condoms), Contempo, Night Light, Rough Rider, and Vivid, among others, are also available.
Where to buy condoms?
Condoms can be purchased in any local supermarket. A disadvantage is that supermarkets don't carry a wide selection, therefore you will have to settle with what they have. Shopping online is a solution for those who prefer privacy and like a variety to choose from. Buying condoms online is popular among people because it saves time, money and it's hassle free. Not all condom stores are created equal and so choosing the right specialized condom store is important.
Buyer discretion is advised
The Internet is full of unsound and unprofessional small condom sellers that use sneaky selling practices to make their visitors buy. Use your own good judgement when shopping for condoms online not all condom sellers are the same.
Condom expiration dates
All condoms have an expiration date whether they are made of latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene or natural materials. The expiration date is printed on the condom pack as well as on each individual condom's wrapper. So don't forget to check that before using the condom. The standard expiration time is up to 4 years from the date of production.
History of condoms
Condoms have been around for several hundred years. They have developed into a very dependable, inexpensive form of protection and are widely accepted and used in our modern society. To read more about condom shapes go to History of condoms article.
How to use a condom?
Every condom pack has it's own directions on how to use a condom properly. Some manufacturers print the instructions on the inside of a condom box while others add a small paper flyer inside the condom pack.
How to dispose a condom?
Used condoms should be wrapped in a tissue and disposed of in the trash. Do not flush condoms down the toilet.
How are condoms packed?
Each condom comes individually wrapped in a factory-sealed retail box. Condom pack count varies depending on the manufacturer.
Reasons for latex condom failure
Although condoms are a very effective form of protection, how a person uses the condom determines its true effectiveness. First time users should definitely take the time to read the instructions inside the package. Not doing so may result in the loss of the condom's benefits. Some reasons for condom failure may be slipping off the penis after ejaculation, using a condom after its expiration date, using an oil-based lubricant or not storing condoms properly. “Double bagging” is another myth that users tend to believe. However, putting two condoms on won't give double protection. In fact, the opposite is true-- the condom will most likely break due to the friction between the two condoms.
Before condoms leave the manufacturer they have to be tested for safety and effectiveness. Each condom is electronically tested for holes and other possible defects to help ensure reliability. Tests like visual, water or air among others are performed before condoms are packed. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Agency regulates the quality measures for condoms.
All condoms sold in the USA should be FDA approved and all condoms that are sold internationally should have ISO approval.
How to store condoms properly
To get the best benefits from this form of protection, condoms should be stored in a cool dry place, away from both excess heat and extremely low temperatures. Storing condoms in the pocket, valet or car compartment will not add extra safety to the condom. In contrary, handling condoms that way may damage them and not serve the purpose of their use.
Note: The information given on this page is not intended to be a substitute for any professional medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.