Condoms are worn on the penis during sex. They are made of thin latex or plastic that has been molded into the shape of a penis. Condoms are available in different styles and colors, and are available dry, lubricated, and with spermicide.
Like all birth control methods, condoms are more effective when you use them correctly.
Each year, 2 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they always use condoms correctly.
Each year, 18 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they don't always use condoms correctly.
So it is very important to always use condoms and to use them correctly. To make them more efficient use spermicide or another form of birth control like the pill.
Condoms that are made of latex offer very good protection against HIV. Latex condoms also reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted infections, including
- hepatitis B
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Condoms can also prevent urinary tract infections in men who wear them.
It is important to handle and store condoms properly. Long exposure to air, heat, and light makes them more likely to break.
Store them in a cool, dry place.
Don’t store them in a back pocket, wallet, or glove compartment for long periods of time.
Keep them in their individual foil or plastic pouch.
When you are ready to use the condom, don’t use it if the pouch is punctured or torn. Do not use your teeth or sharp objects, like scissors, to open the pouch.
Use only water-based lubricants, such as K-Y jelly or Astroglide, with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly, cold cream, butter, or mineral and vegetable oils damage latex.
In packages of 12, condoms can cost less than a dollar each. Some family planning centers give them away or charge very little. The cost in clinics or when authorized by a private doctor is covered by Medicaid in some states.
Spermicide can be used with any form of contraception as extra protection.
It is a birth control method that contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Spermicides are available in different forms, including creams, film, foams, gels, and suppositories.
Using spermicide is simple and convenient. Once you learn how, inserting the spermicide is easy. Women like spermicide because
- It can be carried in your pocket or purse.
- It can be inserted by a partner as part of sex play.
- It does not have an effect on a woman's natural hormones.
- It is very easy to get — in drugstores and some supermarkets.
- It does not require a prescription.
- It can be used during breastfeeding.
Spermicide is available at your local Planned Parenthood health center, other family planning clinics, drugstores, and some supermarkets.
Applicator kits of foam and gel cost about $8. Refills cost $4-$8. Large cans of foam contain between 20 and 40 applications. Film and suppositories are also about $8.