The male condom is a thin sheath that covers the erect penis during sexual intercourse.
It is one of the most widely practiced methods of birth control around the world. It is more commonly used than either oral contraceptive pills or IUDs and much more effective than the rhythm method.
Condoms are meant to cover the erect penis and collect the semen, thus preventing the sperm from coming in contact with the ovum.
The condom is generally made of thin latex. But it can also be made of plastic (polyurethrane), polyisoprene, lambskin or tactylon, a non-latex synthetic polymer from which hypo-allergenic surgical gloves are made. A female condom is also available, most often made of nitrile.
The condom comes in various sizes and colors. It may be lubricated and may also contain spermicides to make it more effective.
Varieties of Condoms
- With Teats – Most condoms come with a teat at the tip to collect the semen. But there are many varieties which do not contain the teat.
- Sizes – Condoms also come in various sizes from small to large, from oversized to snugfitting. Adolescent condoms which are smaller than the average male condom are also available.
- Textured – Condoms may be ribbed or dotted to improve sensation. The texture or dots may be outside the condom to improve sensation in the female partner or inside for the male partner. Or they may be at specific spots to stimulate the G-spot or the frenulum.
- Flavored – Condoms may be flavoured – these are generally used in oral sex.
- Spermicidal – Some condoms contain spermicide called Nonoxynol-9. But these condoms are not more effective in preventing pregnancy. They may, in fact, have a shorter shelf life, and may cause urinary-tract infections in women. But Nonoxynol-9, when packed separately from the condom and used just before wearing the condom may be more effective in preventing pregnancy.
- Boosting Condom – These condoms contain a gel at the tip to dilate the arteries of the glans penis and increase the size of the penis.
- Anti-rape condoms – Designed to be worn by the woman, it clasps the penis hard enough to cause pain in the attacker.
Advantages of Condoms
- Simple technique of use.
- If used in the right method, chances of pregnancy are as less as 3%.
- Prevents spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), including HIV.
- It can be used by older couples and those around the time of menopause, when the frequency of sexual intercourse decreases.
- It is freely available without a prescription.
- There are no side-effects since hormones are not used.
- Does not affect furture fertility.
- No risk of developing infertility.
Disadvantages of Condoms
- Relatively expensive since a condom can be used only once and then needs to be thrown away.
- Decreases the pleasure of the sexual act since it reduces sensation to some extent.
- Can cause allergy in sensitive men and women.
- Makes entry into the vagina somewhat more difficult.
- May break or leak, making the condom ineffective.
- May interfere with sexual foreplay.
- It puts the responsibility of contraception on the man who may refuse to use it.