Effectiveness of Male Condom

The male condom, popularly known as a condom, is the most widely used contraceptive method in the world. The condom has a great advantage over other methods: it helps prevent not only pregnancy but also the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Male condom
Male condom

What is the condom?

A condom is a barrier contraceptive, that is, it prevents the penile and vaginal secretions from coming into contact. In this way, there is a possibility of prevention not only of pregnancy, but also of those of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Other contraceptive methods such as oral contraceptives and the IUD, for example, only prevent pregnancy and do not influence the risk for STDs.

The condom is usually made of latex or polyurethane. On average, a condom has 19 cm of length, 5 cm of width and 0,07 mm of thickness, being exist models with variations in the three measures. In addition to sizes, condoms can vary in shape, color, smell, taste, lubrication and presence or absence of spermicide.

All of these variations described above affect only the convenience of the user; none of these factors influence the effectiveness of the condom, nor even the presence of spermicide. In fact, condoms with spermicide are no more effective than condoms without spermicide, and are still more related to the occurrence of urinary tract infections (cystitis) in their partners. Currently, we always indicate condoms without spermicides.

Effectiveness of the condom

The efficacy of the condom needs to be assessed in two ways:
  • 1) Effectiveness against pregnancy
  • 2) Effectiveness against STIs

Regardless of the mode, the efficacy of the condom is directly linked to its correct use. Below we will teach the right way to put on and use the condom

1) Effectiveness of condoms against pregnancy

When used correctly, the condom has a 98% efficacy against pregnancy. When used intuitively, that is, placed without further guidance or care, effectiveness drops to 85%.

2) Effectiveness of condoms against STDs

The correct use of condoms is currently the main weapon in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Its effectiveness varies from disease to disease, and can not be considered 100% efficient in either case. Therefore, besides the correct use of the condom, it is very important that the individual avoid risky behaviors, such as having multiple sexual partners.

The condom is extremely effective against HIV transmission. The risk of transmitting the virus during a single intercourse with a condom, placed and used correctly, is practically nil.

Cases of transmission usually occur in those serologically discordant couples, ie HIV positive and another HIV negative, who have frequent sexual intercourse. Still, condoms are an excellent method of protection. A 2001 study tracked 587 of these couples and showed that in only 11 of them did the partner become infected. You see, we're talking about people who have had frequent sex with infected partners.

The condom is also effective in preventing other STDs, however, with lower success rates than HIV. Among STDs that present a significant reduction in the rate of transmission, we can mention:

The most important thing is to understand that condoms are a powerful weapon against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but they are not infallible and in many cases their performance is far from ideal.

If on the one hand the role of some religious groups that are against the use of condoms can be considered irresponsible, on the other hand, condom promotion campaigns without due explanation can encourage risk behaviors, which in itself could reduce the beneficial effects of frequent condom use.

Therefore, to reinforce, the condom should be used in all sexual relations where there is no reproductive intention, as it significantly reduces the risk of disease transmission; however, a recidivist risk behavior decreases its effectiveness, exposing the individual to risks.

Pros and cons of condoms

  • It is an immediately reversible contraceptive method.
  • Protects against pregnancy and STD.
  • They are cheap, easy to access and do not require a prescription.
  • It's simple to use.
  • It can be carried by men and women.
  • There are practically no adverse reactions to its use.
  • Helps control premature ejaculation.

  • Some men complain about loss of penile sensitivity.
  • Some men lose their erection when the preliminaries are interrupted to put on the condom.
  • The use of the condom requires the approval of the partner.
  • Its use can lead to false impression of complete protection and without failures.
  • Some women are ashamed to carry condoms because they are afraid of being labeled as promiscuous.
  • Some religions do not allow its use.

How to use the condom

For the condom to be an effective method of birth control and / or disease transmission, it needs to be used correctly. Although it is a very simple and practically intuitive method, some rules have to be respected. Some of the tips below may seem obvious, but they are among the top causes for failure.

1. Buy condoms at authorized locations such as pharmacies and vending machines. Avoid buying them in street vendors or in places that are stored incorrectly. Another important point is the expiration date of the product; if the envelope is damaged, refuse the condom.

2. The condom should be stored in cool, non-humid places away from sunlight. The car is not a good place to store it unless it is always parked in covered locations. In the portfolio, the ideal time is a maximum of one month. Exposing them to the heat will damage the latex, favoring its disruption.

3. The condom is a disposable and single-use product. Even if the second time is between the same people, the condom can not be reused.

4. Just open the condom envelope when you put it on. Be careful not to tear it and avoid sharp materials to open it.

5. To reduce the risk of STDs, condoms should be placed before there is any contact between the genitals, even if there is no intention of penetration.

6. The condom should only be placed when the penis is erect.

7. How to put the condom:
  • With the erect penis, place the condom on the glans (head) holding the reservoir to prevent it from getting full of air.
  • Roll it to the base of the penis. If the condom does not unwind easily it is because it should be upside down. Change the side and restart the process.
  • If placed correctly, the reservoir at the tip of the penis will be withered, without air.
  • The condom should always be unrolled as much as possible, staying tightly at the base of the penis.

8. The condoms have already been lubricated. Avoid adding any other lubricants as they may damage the latex. If more lubrication is required, use only water-based lubricants.

9. Do not try to put the condom on a non-erect penis. It will become loose and may come out during sex.

10. Once you have ejaculated, finish the penetration before the penis becomes flaccid, because at this point the condom can become loose, allowing the sperm to flow from the sides. There is also the risk of the condom coming out and staying inside the vagina.

11. The condom should be changed whenever there is a change from anal sex to vaginal sex.

12. After the withdrawal, a knot should be tied to the base of the condom and discarded in the trash. Do not throw the condom into the toilet.

What if the condom burst?

Although it is a rare event, incorrect use or storage of the condom can eventually lead to ruptures or leakage. If the condom bursts before ejaculation, remove the penis, wash it with soap and water (the same as for vagina) and change the condom if you want to restart the sex act. If this is done immediately, the risk of pregnancy and disease transmission is very low. Caution: Women should avoid vaginal douches when washing.

If the condom bursts after or during ejaculation, the penis should be removed immediately and both genitals should be washed. To avoid pregnancy, contact your gynecologist for advice on emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill. Whenever there is contact between mucous membranes and genital secretions there is a risk of STD transmission. If you have a problem with the condom and you suspect that your partner may have a venereal disease, you should seek medical advice on how to proceed.
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