Contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. Some methods have the additional benefit of preventing sexually-transmitted diseases such as syphilis and HIV. They are called barrier methods of birth control. One popular barrier method is the condom.
The idea behind the condom is that it would provide a barrier between the egg and the sperm. If the two can’t get together, then they can’t make a baby.
Condoms have come a long way in the last 90 to 100 years. They have been made of rubber, animal skins and plastic. Some have been thick and some really thin. Their first job is to prevent pregnancy.
Condoms work by fitting over the male penis or into the female vagina. Female condoms are sold, but they haven’t taken off as well as the traditional male condom. Condoms that are the right size fit snuggly but leave room at the top for ejaculated semen. Female condoms fit in the vagina using two rings to secure it.
Animal skin condoms aren’t used much anymore. It was usually sheepskin condoms that were sold. Just like your skin, sheepskin had tiny pores in it. These pores were large enough for certain diseases to be transmitted from one partner to the other. If you are concerned with other issues besides pregnancy (and most of us are) animal skin condoms are a definite no-no.
Latex condoms compose the majority of condom brands. They have no tiny pores and have a percent pregnancy prevention rate in the mid-80s. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to natural rubber latex. When you think of latex allergies, you first think of gloves being a problem, but using a latex condom causes its share of irritation and rashes down below.
Companies have also created a polyurethane, or plastic, condom for those with latex allergies. It is also supposed to be effective, provided you use it in the same careful way as you would any condom.
Pros of Condoms:
- Condoms are a barrier 85 percent of the time against pregnancy. That percentage increases when using condoms that contain a spermicidal ingredient such as nonoxynol-9.
- Condoms also protect against sexually-transmitted diseases if using latex or plastic varieties.
- Condom manufacturers have created a line of condoms that are designed to combat the complaint of decreased sensitivity. Users can choose from extra sensitive, warming condoms, colorful condoms (including glow-in-the-dark), ribbed and even flavored condoms.
- Condoms are cheap and can be picked up for free from most health departments.
Cons of Using Condoms:
- Female condoms can cause vaginal irritation from the rings.
- Condoms only work if you use them and use them properly. A poorly fitting one can malfunction, as can one that is out of date.
- They are not always easy to put on. Poor placement can lead to possible pregnancy or STDs.
Condoms are a favored method of birth control because they do double duty. With the new features for condoms it is easier to work them into your sexual experiences and therefore make sure they get used each and every time. But again, they are only as effective as the way you use them, and how often.