(Published July 2013)
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 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 condoms and is not recommended with condoms.
- Male condoms and female should not be used simultaneously because they can adhere to each other and cause slippage or breakage of one or both devices
- This method is somewhat effective, and hinges on correct and consistent use. The effectiveness rate with typical use is about 18 percent.7
- 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.33
• The risk of unintended pregnancy for this method is 18 percent.7
Contraindications and Precautions
(theoretical or proven risks usually outweigh the advantages of using the method)
- Allergy to latex (does not apply to plastic condoms)
- Allergy to spermicides (if the condom contains spermicide)
Source: Reference 10
- Over-the-counter availability
- Easy to use
- Easily reversible
- Reduction of the risk of transmission of STIs, including HIV34
- Lower efficacy than some other non-barrier methods with typical use
- Required with every act of intercourse
- Occasional breakage/slippage
- Use depends on cooperation of male partner
- Reduced male sensation
- Condoms 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.3
- It is important to check the expiration date on the condom packaging, because latex degrades over time and condoms are more likely to break if used after their expiration date.
- Patients who use condoms should obtain emergency contraception in advance. (Note that patients who are less than 17 years old will need a prescription for EC)