Condoms are the most popular contraception method used to prevent unwanted pregnancies and protect against sexually transmitted diseases and infections. They are a convenient option for many couples and partners since they are accessible, affordable, easy to use, and more effective than other contraceptive methods.

Currently, two types of condoms are available in the market and many condom stores such as

  • Male condoms/external condoms worn on the penis.
  • Female condoms/internal condoms worn inside the vagina.

Male condoms are most popular since they are easy to use and most accessible. This guide tells you more about how they work and how to use them safely.

How a condom works

Many condoms are manufactured from thin latex or rubber, which is why they are known as latex condoms. But some are latex-free for the sake of people whose skin is latex sensitive or experience allergies/irritation when they use latex condoms. Latex-free condoms, which you can find in similar shops as that sell standard condoms, are manufactured from polyurethane, polyisoprene, or nitrile.

Condoms use a barrier method of contraception or protection against infections. They are designed to stop the semen from coming into contact with female fluids during sex. By stopping the sperm fluids from meeting the female egg, condoms work effectively in preventing pregnancy. They also protect both partners against sexually transmitted infections if used correctly during vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

One significant safety practice for using a male condom is to make sure the penis does not touch the female genital area before putting on the condom. That is because semen can come out of the penis before ejaculation, especially during foreplay. If that happens, emergency contraception for the female partner is necessary, and both of you should consider having an STI test.

Using lubricant with condoms

Condoms are lubricated for ease of use, but you can use additional lube with them if you wish, especially with anal sex, to prevent condom breakage. You can use any sex lubricants available at stores such as with polyurethane condoms. However, if using latex or polyisoprene condoms, avoid oil-based lubricants such as body oil, petroleum jelly, or lotion. They can damage the condom making it more susceptible to split.

Condoms with spermicide

Avoid using condoms that come with spermicide on them. Also, avoid using spermicide as a lubricant because it increases your risk of STIs.

Safety practices of using condoms

  • Water-based lubes are safe for use with all types of condoms.
  • It is likely for a condom to slip off during sexual intercourse, after which an emergency contraceptive for the female partner and an STI test for both partners is necessary.
  • You should store condoms in a cool place and away from rough or sharp surfaces that can wear them or tear them out.
  • Do not use expired condoms as they may have reduced efficacy.
  • Always check the BSI kitemark and CE mark on the condom package. The mark indicates the condom is tested to high safety standards.
  • You can get free condoms in community health centers, birth control facilities, and in public condom dispensers in public restrooms.
  • If you are latex sensitive, use polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms.
  • Putting on a condom should feel like a part of the foreplay and not an interruption.
  • Most people can use a condom, although it might not be the best contraceptive method for everyone.