Male Condom

Male condom

What is a male condom?

The male condom is a sheath that is rolled over the penis to prevent semen from entering the vagina. Condoms are a barrier method of birth control made of latex, polyurethane or lambskin, to be disposed of after each use.

How does a male condom work?

Most male condoms have a small reservoir at the tip of the condom used to catch the sperm during ejaculation. The male condom reduces the likelihood that the vagina and cervix will come in direct contact with the penis or with secretions from the penis. Some condoms come with a spermicidal agent designed to kill the sperm.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 2 out of every 100 condoms break. Lubrications may be used to help prevent condoms from tearing, but not all lubricants are safe to use with latex condoms.

How effective is a male condom?

The typical use of male condoms, which is the average way most people use them, has a failure rate of 14-15%. This means that 14-15 people out of every 100 will become pregnant during the first year of use.  Spermicidal agents increase the effectiveness to over 95% when used correctly and consistently. You should take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

What are the side effects or health risks of male condoms?

Male condoms do not have any side effects except to individuals who are allergic to latex.

Is a male condom reversible?

Yes. It is possible to get pregnant immediately if condoms are no longer used.

How much does a male condom cost?

The cost of male condoms depends on the style (ribbed, lubricated) and the type (latex, lambskin, polyurethane). Most condoms are purchased in packages from 3 to 12. The cost per condom ranges from as little as 20¢ to $2.50 each. Some health facilities may distribute condoms free.

What about male condoms and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)?

A condom is the only means of birth control that provides any reduction in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. However condoms are not “Safe Sex,” but rather “Safer Sex.” According to the workshop summary, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” July 2001, The National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases report

  • Condoms provide no reduction in the transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV) or Trichomonas vaginalis.
  • Syphilis transmission is reduced 29% for typical use. It is reduced 50 to 71% when condoms are used correctly 100% of the time.
  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia transmission is reduced by approximately 50% even when condoms are used 100% of the time.
  • Genital herpes transmission is reduced by approximately 40%
  • HIV transmission is reduced by approximately 85% when condoms are used correctly 100% of the time.

Condoms help prevent the transmission of STD’s by reducing the likelihood of partner exposure through genital contact or fluid secretions. Condoms only reduce the likelihood of exposure, they do not prevent exposure.

What are the pros & cons for male condoms?

  • The Pros of Male Condoms include:

    • It is one of the few forms of birth control that provides any reduction in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
    • Condoms are inexpensive and easily obtained
    • No side effects unless your are allergic to latex
    • You do not need a prescription
    • Condoms are small, easy to carry, and disposable
  • The Cons of Male Condoms include:

    • Some men complain condoms dull sensations
    • May be considered an interruption during intimate foreplay
    • Requires consistent and diligent use
    • Typical use has a failure rate of approximately 14%
    • It places more responsibility on the male partner
Last Updated: 08/2013