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30 April 2003

Condoms for males and females

The condom is the most commonly used barrier method. It is the only contraceptive method that also prevents infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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The condom is the most commonly used barrier method. It is the only contraceptive method that also prevents infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The male condom

  • It is easy to use.
  • It is available for free at most clinics.
  • It allows the male to take responsibility for the prevention of pregnancy and STDs.
  • The condom should be applied before any genital contact and should be used with each act of sexual intercourse.
  • Most condoms have a reservoir at the tip for the collection of the semen. This collection bag should not contain air when the condom is applied to the fully erected penis. If there is no collection bag, about one centimetre should be reserved for semen collection at the tip of the condom, and any air should be expelled before the condom is applied.
  • After intercourse, the condom should be held at the base when withdrawing the penis, and the condom must be removed carefully because if semen is spilled, sperms could enter the vagina resulting in a pregnancy.
  • A spermicide, either included in the condom’s lubricant or inserted separately into the vagina, increases the effectiveness of condom use.
  • Oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline should not be used because they can damage the rubber, causing breakage of the condom.
  • If intercourse is repeated, the penis should be dried and a new condom applied.
  • With careful use, the Pearl Index is between 3 and 15.
  • The female condom

  • The female condom (also called Femidom) is a thin polyurethane sac with two soft rings at each end. The larger open ring stays outside the vagina, covering part of the perineum and labia during intercourse, while the smaller ring, covered with polyurethane, fits loosely over the cervix.
  • It is available only in a few clinics and some pharmacies.
  • It allows the woman to take responsibility for pregnancy and disease prevention.
  • It resembles a male condom but is larger.
  • It is less likely to rupture than the male condom and is more resistant to chemicals.
  • It should be used with a spermicide to increase efficacy.
  • It can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse but should be removed immediately after ejaculation.
  • Some women find the outer ring causes discomfort during intercourse.
  • Male and female condoms should not be used at the same time.
  • It has a minimally higher failure rate than the male condom (Pearl Index 5 – 15) and requires some practice to be used correctly.
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