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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Condom - Male

Condom - Male

Alternate Names : Prophylactic, Rubber

Overview & Description

A male condom is a flexible sheath placed over the penis during intercourse to prevent pregnancy. Using a condom can also protect both partners against sexually transmitted diseases.

What is the information for this topic?

Condoms are usually made of latex rubber. They can also be made of other types of synthetic rubber, or from natural lambskin. Condoms are sold in drugstores and many other places in a variety of sizes, colors, and textures. The condoms may come with or without a spermicide, which provides extra protection against pregnancy.

When used correctly, condoms are more than 95% effective in preventing pregnancy and diseases, including AIDS, herpes, and genital warts. The condom prevents sperm from coming into contact with the other person, as well as other tissue and body contact. A spermicide may increase the condom's ability to prevent pregnancy and some sexually transmitted diseases.

Here are some important facts about using male condoms:

  • Latex condoms are the best type for disease prevention.
  • Condoms should be stored in a cool dry place. They should be thrown away and not used if they have expired, the package looks damaged, or they have dried out. They should be handled carefully.
  • Condoms with lubrication, spermicide, and a reservoir tip provide more safety.
  • Any added lubricant should be water-based and not have oil in it. Lubricants like petroleum jelly, shortening, or baby oil should not be used. Spermicidal creams, foams, and jellies can be used with condoms.
  • A condom is placed on the man's erect penis before sexual intercourse. The condom should be removed from the package carefully to avoid damaging it. It is unrolled over the head of the penis until it won't unroll any further. No air should be trapped underneath the condom, but a small pocket of air should be left at the tip.
  • After intercourse, the sheathed penis should be withdrawn while still erect. The condom should be held at the base of the penis during withdrawal.
  • All condoms should be disposed of properly in the trash.
  • Condoms must never be reused.
  • If a condom breaks during intercourse, a new one should be put on. More spermicidal cream or jelly can be used. Additional measures to prevent contraception may be needed. This can include the morning-after pill.
  • Condoms can sometimes cause irritation or allergic reactions. If this happens, the person should see a healthcare provider.


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    Author: Thomas Fisher, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/19/01

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