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Male Condoms

Condoms are thin sheaths most often made out of latex (rubber). Male condoms are worn on the penis while it is inside the partner.

How effective is it in preventing pregnancy? Typically, only 15 of 100 couples will have a pregnancy in the first year in opposite sex sexual relationships. If you are allergic to latex, you may use a polyurethane (plastic) condom. Polyurethane condoms have a somewhat higher failure rate. The most common reason condoms “fail” is that people don’t use them correctly and consistently every time they have sex.

How effective is the male condom in preventing STDs?
Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and condoms reduce the risk of many other STDs. When used correctly every time a person has sex, condoms are effective in preventing many STDs and HIV.

Other things to know about condoms:
Advantages:

  • Condoms decrease the risk of pregnancy and STDs including HIV/AIDS
  • There is no age limit to purchasing condoms
  • Condoms may make sex last longer
  • Condoms are easy to find. They’re in almost every drug or grocery store, and you don’t need a doctor to get them.
  • Free condoms are available at certain clinics and health departments

Disadvantages:

  • A few people are allergic to latex, and they should use polyurethane (plastic) condoms
  • Condoms can slip off or break, especially if someone does not use them correctly
  • Putting on a condom can interrupt a passionate moment
  • Latex is perishable, which means condoms need to be kept in a cool place and used before the expiration date

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was adapted from PlannedParenthood.org, a website that provides education about reproductive and sexual health, and ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times, and www.bigdecisions.org.

Special Thanks: Melissa A. Habel, MPH, Health Scientist
Division of STD Prevention Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

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