Condoms 101

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condomsWhat is a condom?

A condom is a form of birth control. You can use it with your partner(s) to try not to get pregnant. A condom also helps protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).

A condom is a thin covering, usually made of latex rubber. A man wears it over his erect penis during sex.

Condoms come in many shapes, colors, and flavors. Condoms that are made of latex rubber and are covered with spermicide give you the best protection. The spermicide is called nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 may kill bacteria and viruses that cause STD’s. Condoms made from lambskin do not protect you from STD’s.

How does a condom work?

A condom works as a barrier. It keeps sperm from getting into a woman’s vagina during sex. Latex condoms stop semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from being passed on during oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex. This gives you some protection from STD’s like chlamydia, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, and HIV. Condoms that are not made of latex will not protect you from STD’s.

How effective is a condom?

If 100 men use condoms, between 88 and 98 of their women partner(s) will not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use a condom correctly. You have to use it each time you have sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use a condom with another kind of birth control, like spermicidal foam or jelly.

How do you use a condom?

Check the expiry date on the wrapper before you use it. Heat and light can make the condom weaker. Keep condoms in a dry place at room temperature. Don’t carry them in your wallet, your pocket, or in the glove compartment. Condoms can rip. Don’t test them for holes or fill them with anything before you use them. Make sure you read an information sheet or are taught by a doctor, nurse or counselor on how to put on and take off a condom before you use them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a condom?

Advantages:

* It may protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STD’s).
* It is not expensive. You can often get free condoms at birth control clinics.
* You don’t need to see a doctor or nurse to get it.
* You only use it when you need it.
* You can use it with other kinds of birth control to lower your chances of getting pregnant.
* You can involve male partner(s).
* It can help some men to stay erect longer.
* There are lots of kinds of condoms to choose from.
* They are easy to carry around.
* There is no discharge of semen after intercourse which some partners find annoying.

Disadvantages:

* It can tear or come off during sex.
* Condoms with spermicide may irritate you or your partner.
* Some condoms may taste bad.
* You may have to interrupt sex to put it on.
* Some people may be allergic or sensitive to the latex of the condom.

Where can you get condoms?

You can buy condoms at drug stores, birth control clinics, or washroom vending machines. You can also get free condoms at some birth control clinics. You also have the option of purchasing condoms and other safe sex needs confidentially and privately from the comfort of your home.

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