Woman's Health Centers

When Someone You Love Needs a Choice



The male condom is a sheath that fits over the erect penis. It is open at one end and usually has a small reservoir at the closed tip. This type of condom comes in a variety of sizes, some with special features such as ribs, ultra thin, lubrication, etc.

Typically, condoms are made of latex or polyurethane.

Latex condoms are the most popular. These can be used with water based lubricants, but should not be used with Vaseline or oil based lubricants such as cold cream as they break down the latex.

For men, and their partner who may be allergic to latex, the polyurethane condom is a better choice. They are a bit thinner than the latex condoms, may require a bit more lubrication and are somewhat less flexible.

Animal skin condoms, sometimes called “all natural” condoms do not prevent the spread of STDs because they have tiny pores in them that allow transmission of certain viruses and bacteria.

Never use a condom that is old or brittle. Check the expiration date on the condom. Condoms stored in a wallet often deteriorate from body heat and friction. Heat and cold can affect condoms also. Brittle condoms are more likely to break.

Condoms come in a variety of widths, lengths and shapes to accommodate the difference in the male anatomy.

There are female condoms available also, though they are less popular.

Condoms help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Put on a condom before any vaginal, oral or anal contact with the penis. Even before ejaculation, liquid from the penis can cause pregnancy and/or transmit and STD.

Be sure there are no air pockets in the tip of the fitted condom as this can cause the condom to burst.

If using a condom would “kill the mood”, try putting it on in a “sexy” way. Make it a part of foreplay. Be creative. Be safe.