What are condoms and how do I use condoms?

A condom acts as a physical barrier that prevents sperm from entering the uterus and reaching an egg. Two types are available:

  • A male condom is a thin sheath made of latex (rubber), polyurethane (plastic), or natural (animal) membrane that is worn over the erect penis(male sex organ) during sexual intercourse. Latex and polyurethane condoms provide the protection against many STIs, including HIV.
  • A female condom is a thin plastic pouch that lines the vagina. It is held in place by a closed inner ring at the cervix and an outer ring at the opening of the vagina. It also provides some protection against STIs.
  • Using both methods such as a condom and a spermicide, is the best way to protect against pregnancy and STIs. Condoms should be used with a lubricant to prevent them from tearing or breaking during the intercourse and to reduce irritation. Use only water based or silicone lubricants with latex condoms, and do not use a male and female condom together.

What are the benefits, risks, and side effects of using condoms?


  • Condoms cost less than other birth control methods and can be bought in many stores.
  • They can be used immediately after the childbirth. They do not affect milk supply if you are breastfeeding.
  • They have no effect on a woman’s natural hormones.
  • Latex and polyurethane condoms provide the best available protection against STIs.
  • The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex.

Possible risks and side effects:

  • Some people might be allergic to latex or polyurethane may have a reaction.