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Male Condoms

A male condom is a sheath designed to fit over a man's erect penis and prevent passage of sperm into the female reproductive tract. Most condoms are made of thin latex rubber; some are made of animal tissue or of polyurethane. Condoms come dry or lubricated with a water-based lubricant or spermicide. Condoms can be very effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly and consistently with every act of intercourse (perfect use); they are less effective with typical use, however. They do not affect breastfeeding or have hormonal side effects; no medical condition restricts a client's eligibility for use of the method except allergy to latex. In addition to preventing pregnancy, latex condoms are also very effective in protection against most STDs. Some characteristics of male latex condoms are highlighted below.


3% to 12% failure rate during first year of typical use; 3% failure rate during first year of perfect use

Age limitations         

No restrictions

Parity limitations

No restrictions on use

Mode of action

By preventing sperm from reaching the female reproductive tract

Effect on STD risk

Protective against most STDs, including HIV

Drug interaction


Duration of use

Most clients can use condoms safely throughout their reproductive years (if they are satisfied with the method and have no problems with it)

Return to fertility

Immediately upon discontinuation

Return to Contraceptive Method List

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