What Is a Condom?A condom is a thin sheath that fits snugly over a man's erect penis during sexual contact. Its purpose is to prevent bodily fluids from passing between sexual partners, and thus prevent impregnation and/or transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Various TypesCondoms come in different shapes, flavors, and sizes. There are also a variety of materials used for condoms, including latex, lambskin, polyurethane, and polyisoprene.
Which Type Is Best?Only latex condoms are proven to help prevent both pregnancy and the transmission of STDs such as herpes and HIV. When used consistently and properly, they are the condom of choice. Lambskin condoms, which are made from part of a lamb's intestine, prevent pregnancy, and are considered by many to enhance sensation during sex. But, they have a major drawback. The tiny holes inherent to lamb intestine allow STDs to pass between partners.Polyurethane condoms are thinner, so like lambskin condoms, they allow for enhanced sensation. And they provide a solution for people who are allergic to latex. Scientific data as to how effectively polyurethane condoms prevent the transmission of STDs are not nearly as well-documented as they are for latex condoms.Polyisoprene condoms are another option for people with latex allergies. This type of condom is also designed to be comfortable.
Exactly How Effective Are Latex Condoms?According to Planned Parenthood, latex condoms seldom break when used consistently and correctly. As a result, in one year, only 98% of women using condoms correctly will not get pregnant. However, since most couples do not always use condoms consistently or correctly, the failure rate for condoms in preventing pregnancy is around 18% over the course of a year.Latex condoms are very protective against HIV, but only when used consistently and correctly. Inconsistent condom use can lead to HIV or other STDs. It only takes one unprotected sex act to acquire an infection. Incorrectly using condoms can lead to the condom breaking, slipping, or leaking. Correct use of condoms requires that they are used for the entire sex act, from the start of sexual contact until after ejaculation.