Page 3: Male Condom

A male condom is the most common barrier method of birth control. It is a sheath that fits over the erect penis and blocks the passage of semen. Condoms are made of latex, polyurethane or natural membrane.

  • Latex - offers significant protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and pregnancy. Condoms are packaged individually and available with or without lubrication. Avoid latex condoms if you or your partner(s) are allergic to other latex products
  • Polyurethane - Acceptable for use by those allergic to latex; offers significant protection against STD's; packaged individually; less likely to rip or tear than latex.
  • Natural Membrane - Effective against pregnancy but DOES NOT offer any protection against STDs. The bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases are smaller than sperm and will easily pass through the natural membrane.


How to use a condom

For optimal effectiveness, condoms must cover the penis before any genital contact or penetration occurs. Sperm is present in pre-ejaculatory fluid, a fluid that is released spontaneously at some point after an erection occurs. Effectiveness is increased when spermicide is used in combination with a condom.

  • Gently tear the corner of the condom package to open it. Use of teeth or sharp objects may cause damage to the condom. Be sure to check the expiration date.
  • If a man has not been circumcised, it will be necessary to pull the foreskin back before placing the condom on the penis.
  • Pinch the reservoir tip of the condom before placing it on the penis. This will make sure there is no air in the condom tip and will leave room for the semen to collect. This will help decrease condom breakage. Unroll the condom so that it covers the length of the fully erect penis.
  • Use additional WATER-BASED or silicone lubricants to help reduce condom breakage. These lubricants can be applied directly on the condom and also inserted in the vagina or rectum. Use of lubricants can ease penetration. Water based lubes are available at the Health Resource Centers.
  • After ejaculation has occurred, the penis must be withdrawn from the partner while the penis is still erect. Holding the condom at the base of the penis will prevent it from slipping off. If a condom slips off it may spill semen inside the partner, or the condom itself may be retained in the partner. If this occurs there is a risk of pregnancy or an STD.


Things to consider when using condoms

  • Keep them in your purse, backpack, bedside drawer or bathroom - any place that you can get to them quickly and easily.
  • Condoms come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and flavors.
  • Condoms can/should be used in combination with hormonal birth control methods to reduce risk of sexually transmitted diseases specifically gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, Hepatitis B and HIV. They also help decrease the transmission of genital warts and herpes.
  • NEVER use oil based products such as baby oil, mineral oil, suntan lotion, vegetable oil (“Crisco”), hand creams, etc. These products may damage the condom and cause breakage. These products can also cause vaginal irritation and inflammation.
  • Some people may be allergic to latex. Allergic reactions may include redness, itching, swelling and discomfort. If you suspect that you have a latex allergy, you should discuss it with a health care provider.
  • NEVER try to reuse a condom. Properly dispose of them after each use.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place. Avoid extreme heat. Long-term storage in a wallet or car is not advised.


Oral Sex

To reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, condoms are encouraged when performing oral sex on a partner. Latex barriers are recommended when performing oral sex to the genitals or anus. Latex barriers can be purchased in drug stores and are also available at McKinley’s Health Resource Centers.

To make a latex barrier, simply open and unroll a condom. Use scissors to cut both ends of the condom and cut down the length of the condom. You now have a sheath to place over the vulva or anus.

Condoms are readily available. For students at the University of Illinois condoms are available at no cost in the Health Resource Centers, located at McKinley Health Center, Main Lobby, Information/HRC counter (217-333-2700) and the Illini Union, Room 40, lower level (217-244-5994). Everyone who is sexually active is encouraged to keep condoms available for routine use.