What is it?
The male or external condom is a thin covering that fits over an erect penis to create a barrier so no body fluids can be exchanged between partners. Condoms are made of either latex, polyurethane, other synthetic materials or natural lambskin. Condoms come in different textures, colors and sizes. Some condoms are lubricated and even flavored.
Condoms are often called rubbers but they’re called a lot of other names, too. Condoms are used for pregnancy prevention and are effective to help protect against STDs during vaginal, anal or oral sex when used correctly.
It is very important that condoms fit correctly, and used correctly each and every time that vaginal, anal or oral sex takes place. Only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms. Natural lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs. Condoms have expiration dates printed on the package so be sure to check it.
What are some advantages?
- Condoms (except for natural lambskin, which have tiny holes that bacteria and viruses can get through) protect against STDs when used correctly. The condom is the only barrier method that does this.
- Condoms can be effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly every time. Unfortunately, they are often not used correctly.
- They are available many places. You don’t have to go to a healthcare provider or clinic to get them.
- Condoms are easy to carry around and have on hand to be prepared.
What are some disadvantages?
- They are not as effective at preventing pregnancy as IUDs, implants or hormonal birth control methods.
- Condoms can break or slip off.
- Not everybody knows how to put on or take off a condom correctly.
- They must be used right before any sex takes place, on an erect penis.
Where and how do you get it?
Condoms are available at drugstores, grocery stores and other places. You do not need a prescription to buy condoms and you do not need an ID. People of all ages can easily buy condoms. It is very important to know exactly how to use it correctly and that you use it every time you have sex. Some healthcare providers and clinics give condoms away for free.