Condoms are contraceptive devices. There are both male and female condoms. Male condoms are much more popularly used than of female. It is so designed that it fits over the erect male organ. Female condoms are designed to fit into the vagina. Both male and female condoms are used to prevent the entry of the sperm into the vaginal tract.
Since male condoms are much more used than female condoms, this article discusses only male condoms in detail
Structure and Types of Condoms
The male condom is made of an inflatable material like latex or polyurethane. It has a tight circular rim at one end. This rim fits snugly over the shaft of the male organ at the base. The remaining portion of the condom is unfurled over its length. At the tip, there is a small pouch provided to collect the semen after ejaculation. Most male condoms are 19 cm in length and 5.2 cm in circumference. This size is supposed to fit all sizes and girths.
The different types of condoms according to the order in which they were invented are described below:-
(i) Lambskin or Sheepskin condoms – These were the earliest condoms used. They are made out of the intestines of lambs and sheep. These are the only condoms made entirely out of natural materials available today (that too only in some regions). Doctors do not advise the use of lambskin or sheepskin condoms as these materials are porous. The pores are small enough to prevent the passage of sperm, but they cannot prevent the passage of bacteria and other microorganisms. Hence, pregnancies may be prevented, but not infections.
(ii) Latex condoms – Latex was the first synthetic material used to make condoms. Latex has tremendous extensile properties; it can stretch to eight times its original length. Latex can also be lubricated with nonoxynol-9 which facilitates smoother passage into the vagina.
(iii) Polyurethane condoms – Today, polyurethane is the chief material used for making condoms. It has many advantages over latex. It has a better stretching power, and it does not have any odor like latex has. Also, polyurethane condoms can be made thinner to give a more natural feel.
(iv) Invisible condoms – Scientists are today working hard to design invisible condoms. They are actually gels that will fit on the male organ, rather than actual solid materials. They have been tested for prevention of STDs. Research on their practicability if now going on.
Uses and Risks of Condoms
The prime uses of condoms in the world today are:-
- They are used to avoid pregnancies. They are the most popular contraceptive methods used all over the world.
- They are used to prevent the exchange of microorganisms from one partner to the other. This helps in the prevention of STDs like syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and AIDS.
- They are also used in sex education. They are used for demonstration and also distributed to the sexually active population.
They are thus very widely used in both family planning and in the practice of safe sex. It has been found that male condoms have a 2% success rate all over the world. That means, if 100 men use a condom in the right way according to the instructions, then there are still two chances of pregnancies or sexual infections. Thus, condoms are not a foolproof method. There are some risks associated with condom use.
- The most common risk occurs when the person does not know how to put the condom properly. An improperly put condom can slip out and thus cause leaks within the vagina.
- The condom must be slowly removed from the pack. A condom rushed out of the pack (as is usually done in sexual frenzy) could get tears.
- Some couples may remove the condom during sex as they may not like its touch or feel.
The Correct Way to Put a Condom
It is most important to know the correct manner of putting a condom on, as most of the risk factors associated with condoms are in the style of putting it on. It is usually packed in a square packet, which must be torn off from one edge. Then it must be carefully extracted from the packet.
When the male organ is erect, the condom must be placed over the tip so that the pouch for the collection of sperm is directly over the penile outlet. Then the rim of the condom must be unrolled downwards so that it wraps around the penis completely. It is important to unroll the rim all the way to the bottom, or else there could be a chance of the it coming off and wedging inside the vagina of the woman.
Some people do not use them just because they do not like the feel of it. Towards this end, condom manufacturers are producing condoms with different colors and flavors. Ribbed and studded condoms are also available to increase the ecstasy.
Couples can make the act of putting it on a part of their foreplay. In this manner, it can be actually used to increase the eroticism of sex. They are not a hindrance; they are tools for practicing safe and healthy sex.