Condoms are worn during sexual activity as a contraceptive and to prevent sexually transmissible infections. They are available for men and women.
What is the male condom and how does it work?
Condoms are made of thin, strong, latex rubber or polyurethane. A condom is rolled onto the erect penis before vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can only be used once. The condom is a physical barrier that stops body fluids (eg, semen, vaginal fluids) passing between sexual partners.
How effective is the male condom?
With perfect use its’ 98% effective; typical use sees it as 82% effective as a contraceptive method. If not used correctly and consistently, the failure rate will be higher.
What are the advantages of using a male condom?
- helps protect women and men against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- available from supermarkets, pharmacies, adult shops and vending machines at low cost
- no significant medical risks or side effects (polyurethane condoms are available for people with a latex allergy)
What are the disadvantages of using a male condom?
- a small number of people are sensitive to latex, spermicide or lubricant
- the interruption to sexual activity can be a concern for some people
- some people complain of reduced sensitivity during sexual intercourse
- breakages can occur or it could slip off
Is the male condom suitable for everyone?
Latex allergy occurs in a small number of men and women. Non-latex condoms are now available and can be used in this situation. Female condoms may also be an option for people who are sensitive to latex. Some men cannot maintain an erection when wearing a condom. Men whose erections are less firm may also find it difficult to use a male condom.
How do I use a condom?
- Take care when opening condom packets – teeth and fingernails may cause damage to the condom.
- Condoms should be placed on the erect penis before contact with the sexul partner’s genitals.
- Squeeze the air out of the tip with your thumb and finger - an air bubble in the tip can cause bursting or breakage during ejaculation. Roll condom to penis base.
- Apply water based lubricant freely to the condom both before and during intercourse to help prevent breakages and to increase comfort.
- Withdraw the penis immediately, holding the condom at the base, after ejaculation and before it becomes soft. Remove the condom from the penis. Be careful not to allow the condom or the penis to touch the sexual partner’s genitals. Dispose of the condom in a rubbish bin.
- Why is lubrication important?
- Lubrication is the wetness that makes penetration more comfortable during intercourse. While most condoms are already lubricated, additional water-based lubrication is recommended as this will increase comfort and help prevent breakages. Water-based lubricants are available from pharmacies and supermarkets; a number of brands are available so find one that suits. Saliva (spit) is not usually slippery enough to use but may help if nothing else is available.
- Oil-based lubricants can weaken male condoms, and should not be used. These include petroleum jelly (eg, Vaseline), cooking oil, baby oil, suntan oil, massage oil, hand lotions or creams.
Why does a male condom slip or break?
The condom may slip or break if:
- it is not put on correctly
- there is not enough lubrication during sexual intercourse
- an oil-based lubricant is used
- a vaginal cream used for thrush is oil-based, so check with the chemist before using
- it is torn by fingernails, jewelry or teeth
- sexual intercourse is prolonged or very vigorous
- the penis loses erection before withdrawal
- the penis and condom are not held securely when withdrawing
- the condom is too big or small for the penis
- the rubber loses strength when it is past its use-by-date, or after exposure to light or heat
What should I do if a male condom slips or breaks?
Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent pregnancy if a condom slips or breaks. Emergency contraception is taken by the female partner and can be obtained from SHFPACT and most chemists.
Where is the male condom available?
Male condoms are available from clinics, pharmacies, supermarkets and vending machines. They come in different shapes, thicknesses, flavours, textures, sizes and colours. Adult shops can assist with less common sizes if you are having difficulty with fit or comfort wearing a condom.