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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

 
FAQ

Birth Control Options

 

Male Condom

What is it?

The male condom is a latex sheath that fits over an erect penis during oral, vaginal or anal sex. Condoms are useful in preventing both pregnancy and most sexually transmitted infections. A condom should always be used in combination with a spermicide.

  • Condoms are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, colours, flavours and textures. They can be found in drugstores, sexual health clinics and some washrooms
  • They can be made of latex, polyurethane, silicone or lambskin
  • Condoms made of animal tissue (e.g. lambskin) do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Polyurethane condoms can be used if you or your partner has an allergy to latex
  • Condoms are available with: no lubricant, a water-based or silicone lubricant or a spermicidal lubricant. Lubricant is recommended as it can help prevent condoms from ripping/tearing




How does it work?

  • Fits over an erect penis
  • It collects pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) and semen and prevents the exchange of body fluids during sex
  • Acts as a physical barrier, preventing sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg
  • A new condom must be used for each act of intercourse
  • Only one condom should be used at a time



How effective is it?

With typical use, condoms are about 85% effective in preventing pregnancy. When used in combination with a Spermicide, they can be up to 97-98% effective.



What are the Advantages?

  • Prevent against pregnancy and most sexually transmitted infections
  • Allows the male partner to assume some responsibility for birth control
  • Both partners can participate in their use
  • May help to maintain an erection and avoid premature ejaculation
  • Widely available in stores without a doctor's prescription
  • Inexpensive
  • Cut lengthwise, a latex condom can be used as a barrier during oral sex with a female partner or oral-anal contact with a partner.
  • May be used with other birth control methods (dual protection) to increase their effectiveness



What are the Disadvantages?

  • Must be available at the time of intercourse
  • May slip off or break (See Emergency Contraception)
  • Must be stored and handled properly
  • May cause skin irritation
  • People with latex allergies cannot use latex condoms, but may be able to use non-latex condoms (ex: polyurethane)
  • Because of additives, some flavoured condoms may cause vaginal irritation
  • May reduce sensitivity for either partner (sensation may be increased with the use of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom)
  • Lambskin condoms do not protect against sexually transmitted infections




Important Points to Remember:

  • Do not use oil-based lubricants (petroleum jelly/Vaseline, mineral oil, baby oil, vegetable oil, massage oil, etc.) as they can break down the latex in condoms
  • Remember that condoms have an expiry date. Do not use the condom if it is expired.
  • Extra-strength condoms with additional water-based lubricant are recommended for anal sex
  • Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place

 

Negotiating Condom Use:

It can be difficult to talk about using condoms with your partner. Remember your safety and health comes first…do what you need to make sure you’re in control of it. Here are some responses that you may find useful:

Comment

Response

Don’t you trust me

Trust isn’t the point; people can have infections and not know it.

It doesn’t feel as good with a condom

I’ll feel more relaxed and if I’m more relaxed, I can make it feel better for you.

I don’t stay hard when I put on a condom

I’ll help you put it on, that will help you stay hard.

I don’t have a condom with me

I do!

I’m on the pill, we don’t need a condom

I’d like to use it anyway. It will help to protect us from infections we may not realize we have.

I guess you don’t really love me

I do, but I’m not risking my future to prove it.

I will pull out in time

I can get pregnant and get STIs from pre-ejaculate

But I love you

Then you’ll help us to protect ourselves

Just this once

Once is all it takes




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