What are condoms? How do they work? Why do we even need them? What happens if we do not use them? These are a few questions my friends and I spent time brainstorming on last weekend over a healthy plate of steak. We talked about everything relating to condoms and we discovered some super amazing facts about condoms too. I’ll be sharing all of these and more with you today!
So, what are Condoms?
In really simple terms, condoms are a type of contraceptive. They are thin rubber pouches that prevent sperm from getting to the vagina during sexual intercourse. Condoms are basically used to reduce the possibility of pregnancy and the risk of contracting a number of sexually transmitted infections and diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, syphilis, genital herpes, and HIV/AIDS.
According to experts, women whose partners make use of condoms during sexual intercourse experience reduced pregnancy rates between two percent and eighteen percent, annually.
Are there Types?
Apparently, yes! Condoms are gender-based too. Before that conversation, I used to think that only male condoms exist. Thankfully, one of my friends, who is also a health practitioner informed all of us that there are female condoms too.
Male condoms are the more popular type of condoms. Male condoms are usually made from latex, although some of them may be made from lambskin or polyurethane. Male condoms are usually worn over an erect penis before sexual intercourse to prevent the release of the semen inside the vagina. This also helps to prevent the possible transmission of STDs and STIs. Many condoms come in a variety of lengths, shapes, widths, thickness, and colors.
On the other hand, female condoms differ greatly from male condoms. However, they perform the same functions. Female condoms are inserted into the vagina. A female condom has a flexible ring which is placed at either of its ends. Usually, one end of the contraceptive is closed and this is the end that goes into the vagina. So, what happens to the other side of the condom? Quite easy — this side is left open while the ring remains outside the opening of the vagina.
Can both Condoms be used at the Same Time?
Although some persons may wrongly believe that using both condoms at the same time will mean heightened protection, this is hardly the case in reality. In fact, using both condoms at the same time will increase your chances of pregnancy and contracting any of the STDs and STIs. This is because the friction from their contact during sexual activity can make the condoms break, stick together or make one of them slip off during sex. Any of these could reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptives.
Let’s move on to answering some important questions about the nature and use of condoms.
Question 1: Can Condoms be used with Other Birth Control Methods?
Knowing that condoms are also a form of contraceptive, many persons in the gathering wanted to know if it could be safe to use condoms with other birth control methods. I told them there is nothing wrong in using condoms with any other birth control method like birth control pills or even an IUD (Intrauterine Device). Doing this just provides extra protection for the persons in question.
Can a Condom be Reused?
Definitely not! At least until reusable condoms are invented, it is not advisable for anyone to attempt reusing condoms. Condoms cannot be reused; a new condom should be used each time a couple decides to engage in sexual activity and such condom should be used from start to finish in order to provide total protection during sex.
Where can I Find Condoms?
Condoms are one kind of contraceptives that you can access without a doctor’s or health provider’s prescription. You can find condoms at pharmacies, drugstores, dispensaries, supermarkets, and even vending machines in restrooms. Sometimes, condoms are given out for free especially in family health centers and family planning clinics. Condoms may also be given out for free during HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.
There are so many brands you can choose from. Condoms are not expensive either; especially the male condoms. The female condoms are slightly more expensive than male condoms because they are less popular.
How Do Condoms Work?
This is important. The condom-mechanism is really simple. What the condom does is to prevent the semen from getting into the vagina. Some condoms contain spermicides that kill the sperm cells in the semen and reduce the chances of pregnancy; even if the semen gets into the vagina somehow.
How to Use a Condom Properly
Here are a few tips that will help you use a male condom properly:
First, ensure that you unsheathe the condom carefully. Do not use your teeth or your fingernails.
If the condom is not lubricated, apply a little lubricant outside the condom.
Next, place the tip of the rolled condom over your erect penis. Ensure that the rolled rim is on the outside.
Press the tip of the condom gently to remove any air bubbles.
Now, roll the condom down. Hold the tip of the condom while unrolling it to create some space for the semen after ejaculation.
After the sexual activity, grasp the base of the condom before pulling out of your partner.
Finally, dispose of the condom properly in the trash can.
I have already stated that the female condom is placed inside the vagina with the use of the rings placed at both sides of the condom. The female condom works by covering the walls of the vagina; hence creating a blockage between the semen and the cervix.
Unlike the male condom that is inserted immediately before sexual intercourse when the penis is erect, the female condom can be inserted hours before the sexual activity; as much as eight hours before. However, it should be removed immediately after sex; usually, before the female stands up.
Staying Safe with Condoms
My friends and I were able to highlight a few tips that could help to ensure the effectiveness of male condoms. I’ll share some of these interesting tips with you. Let’s get talking.
Tip 1: Keep your Condom in a Cool Place
All condoms should be stored in a cool and dry place to ensure that they remain effective. Friction and heat can cause your condoms to break and lose their efficacy. My health practitioner friend advised us to avoid keeping condoms in our billfolds or back pockets for a long period of time as exposure to air or heat can cause the condoms to break.
Tip 2: Water-based Lubricants are Perfect for your Condoms
Oil-based lubricants like olive oil and whipped cream can destroy the latex in your condoms and weaken the condoms; thus making them break during use. Instead, make use of water-based lubricants like Astroglide and K-Y jelly.
Other Relevant Tips
- Always check the expiration date of the condom before you make use of it. If it is expired, dispose of the condom and purchase another one.
- Ensure that you check the condom for damages before you use it. Scrutinize the condom for any signs of brittleness, tears or holes.
- Most importantly, ensure that you make use of a condom when engaging in any sexual activity to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
We’ve learned all about condoms and how they work to protect us from the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We’ve also learned how to make use of a condom the right way and how to take care of our condoms so that they remain effective.
Now that you know all these, be sure to tell someone today!