What are condoms?
A condom is a tube made of thin, flexible material. It is closed at one end. Condoms have been used for hundreds of years to prevent pregnancy by keeping a man’s semen out of a woman’s vagina. Condoms also help prevent diseases that are spread by semen or by contact with infected sores in the genital area, including HIV. Most condoms go over a man’s penis.
The lubrication on condoms varies. Some condoms are not lubricated at all, some are lubricated with a silicone substance, and some condoms have a water-based lubricant. The lubrication on condoms aims to make the condom easier to put on and more comfortable to use. It can also help prevent condom breakage. Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms, not oil-based. The oils in Crisco, butter, baby oil, Vaseline or cold cream will make latex fall apart.
What condoms should you use for anal intercourse?
With anal intercourse more strain is placed on the condom. You can use stronger condoms (which are thicker) but standard condoms are just as effective as long as they are used correctly with plenty of lubricant. Condoms with a lubricant containing nonoxynol-9 should NOT be used for anal sex as nonoxynol-9 damages the lining of the rectum increasing the risk of HIV and STD transmission.
Important notes for condom use
- Do not “double bag” (use two condoms). Friction between the condoms increases the chance of breakage.
- Check the expiration date. Don’t use outdated condoms.
- Don’t open a condom package with your teeth. Be careful that your fingernails or jewelry don’t tear the condom. Body jewelry in or around your penis or vagina might also tear a condom.
- Use a new condom every time you have sex, or when the penis moves from the rectum to the vagina.
- Check the condom during sex, especially if it feels strange, to make sure it is still in place and unbroken.
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