The male condom is a thin sheath made of latex, natural animal membrane, polyurethane, silicone, or other synthetic material that fits over the erect penis. During ejaculation, the condom catches semen to prevent it from entering the vagina and cervix. Latex and other synthetic condoms reduce the risk of transmission of STIs, including HIV. In contrast, natural animal condoms offer no protection against STIs. Condoms can be purchased at pharmacies and some other retail shops.
- The rolled-up condom is placed on the tip of the erect penis. A small pouch at the condom tip accommodates ejaculated semen and is grasped while the condom is unrolled over the penis.
- Immediately after ejaculation, the condom should be grasped at the base of the penis before withdrawal from the vagina to avoid leakage.
- A new condom should be used for each act of sex.
- Spermicide provides no additional benefit to ccondoms and are not recommended with condoms.
- This method is effective. With consistent and correct use, condoms have a failure rate of 2 percent. The typical use effectiveness rate is about 18 percent.19
- Effectiveness can be enhanced when both women and men understand how to discuss condom use with their partners.
- Condoms should not be used with nonoxynol-9 spermicides, because these products can cause vaginal and rectal irritation, which may increase the risk of HIV infection.82
Contraindications and Precautions
Allergy to latex
- Over-the-counter availability
- Easy to use
- Easily reversible
- Reduction of the risk of transmission of STIs, including HIV
- Lower efficacy than some other non-barrier methods with typical use
- Required with every act of intercourse
- Use depends on cooperation of male partner
- Reduced male sensation
- Condoms both provide contraception and reduce the risk of transmission of STIs, including HIV.
- Simultaneous use of the male condom and the female condom is not recommended.
- Patients who use another contraceptive method and are at risk for STI transmission should also use male (or female) condoms for STI prevention.
- Correct use of condoms is essential to their effectiveness. (Providers should educate patients about correct use and strategies for negotiating condom use with partners.)
- Condoms should be used for all sexual activities that can transmit STIs.
- Oil-based lubricants should never be used with condoms.
- Spermicides such as nonoyxnol-9 should not be used with condoms; irritation from nonoxynol-9 has been shown to increase the risk of HIV transmission.82
- It is important to check the expiration date on the condom packaging, because latex degrades over time and condoms more likely to break if used after their expiration date.
- Patients who use condoms should consider obtaining EC in advance.
(Updated June 2014)
About Audrey Kelly, PharmD