Font Size

Birth Control Barrier Methods (cont.)

Male Condom

The condom (also called a rubber) is a thin sheath placed over an erect penis. A man would put a condom over his penis before he places the penis in a womans vagina. A condom worn by a man prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the vagina. A condom can be worn only once. It is one of the most popular birth control barriers. You can buy condoms at most drugstores and grocery stores and dispensers can be found in public restrooms.

Condoms made from latex are the best at preventing pregnancy. They also protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and gonorrhea. Do not use condoms with Vaseline or other brands of petroleum jelly, lotions, or oils. They can decrease the effectiveness of the condom and increase the chance of pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted disease. Condoms can be used with lubricants that don't have oil, such as K-Y Jelly.

Male condom use has increased from 13.2%-18.9% among all women of reproductive age because of their concern about getting HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS) and other STDs. 

  • How effective: The failure rate of condoms in couples that use them consistently and correctly during the first year of use is estimated to be about 3%. However, the true failure rate is estimated to be about 14% during the first year of typical use. This marked difference of failure rates reflects the error of usage. Some couples fail to use condoms every time they have sexual intercourse. Condoms may fail (break or come off) if you use the wrong type of lubricant (for example, using an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom will cause it to fall apart). The condom may not be placed properly on the penis. Also, the man may not use care when withdrawing. 

  • Advantages: Condoms are readily available and usually are low cost. A prescription is not necessary. This method involves the male partner in the contraceptive choice. Besides abstinence, latex condoms are the best protection against STDs. They are the only kind of birth control that is highly effective in preventing AIDS.  

  • Disadvantages: Condoms possibly decrease enjoyment of sex. Some users may have a latex allergy. Condom breakage and slippage makes them less effective. Oil-based lubricants may damage the condom.

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Birth Control Barrier Methods

Birth Control Methods
Birth Control FAQs The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Your choice of birth control method involves factors such as how easy it is to use, safety, risks, c...learn more >>
Birth Control
Birth Control Overview The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Today, the voluntary control of fertility is of paramount importance to modern society.learn more >>
How to Use a Condom
How to Use a Condom Among the many barrier methods of birth control, the condom for men is used most often. Condoms are inexpensive and available in many convenient locations, with...learn more >>

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Contraception »

The practice of contraception is as old as human existence.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary