Male Condoms for Birth Control
Condoms are made of latex (rubber), polyurethane, or sheep intestine. While latex and polyurethane condoms help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, sheep intestine condoms do not.
Condoms are currently the only male method of birth control besides vasectomy. To more effectively prevent pregnancy, use a condom with a more effective birth control method such as hormonal contraception, an intrauterine device (IUD), a diaphragm with spermicide, or another female barrier method. Any spermicide that you use with a condom or other barrier method is not put inside the condom.
Be sure to follow the directions for using condoms correctly.
Condoms do not require a visit to a health professional or a prescription. Condoms are sold in drugstores, family planning clinics, and many other places, including vending machines in some restrooms. There are many different kinds of condoms. Some condoms are lubricated, some are ribbed, and some have a "reservoir tip" for holding the semen. You can also buy condoms of different sizes. Condoms that are coated with spermicide are not recommended, because they may irritate the woman's vagina.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
The male condom, if used without spermicide, has a user failure rate (typical use) of 15%. This means that, among all couples that use condoms, 15 out of 100 become pregnant in 1 year. Among couples who use condoms perfectly for 1 year, only 2 out of 100 will become pregnant.1
Condoms that are sold with a coating of spermicide are no more effective than condoms without it. The most common reason for failure, besides not using a condom every time, is that the condom breaks or partially or completely slips off the penis. Slippage occurs more often than breakage, usually when a condom is too large.
Use emergency contraception as a backup if a condom breaks or slips off.
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Male condoms reduce the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Condoms are often used to reduce the risk of STDs even when the couple is using another method of birth control (such as pills).
"Natural" or sheep intestine condoms are as effective as latex or polyurethane condoms for preventing pregnancy, but they are not effective against STDs because the small openings in the animal tissue allow organisms to pass through.
Advantages of male condoms
Disadvantages of male condoms
Failure rates for barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other disadvantages include the following:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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