Condoms: Expectations and Reality
It has taken some effort for condoms to gain social acceptance since their invention more than a thousand years ago. Condoms or sheaths are the oldest forms of barrier contraception. They are used for birth control as well as for preventing diseases when worn on an erect penis to prevent the exchange of body fluids during intercourse. Their design and production continues to advance to provide ultra-thin, effective, and delightful condoms we enjoy today. The evolution improves comfort, sensation, and attractiveness.
What are Condoms Made Of?
There are three types of materials used to make condoms, latex rubber, natural materials, and plastics.
- Latex rubber
Latex condoms offer an effective contraceptive and an effective way of protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Latex rubber condoms are popular in the market and continue to advance in quality based on technology. They reduce body heat transfer that can result in reduced sexual pleasure.
Condoms made of Lambskin are also known as natural condoms since they are made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb. Lambskin condoms are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are very effective as contraceptives. They have a thinner texture that offers a natural feel, therefore, providing the feeling of intimate sensation close to not wearing a condom.
Lambskin condoms are less allergic and cause less irritation. In addition, the condoms are biodegradable and can be used with oil-based lubricants. However, lambskin condoms are expensive, they are not as stretchy as latex condoms, they are not attractive, and do not offer protection from HIV.
The polyurethane condom was developed to address limitations in decreased sensitivity and sexual pleasure. Polyurethane is a strong material that offers good heat transfer between partners and does not deteriorate during storage as with latex.
Polyurethane condoms offer comfort, natural look, increased sensitivity, natural feel and have no smell. These condoms are thinner than most latex-made condoms and their exposure to oil-based products do not damage them. However, they do not stretch as much as latex condoms, as a consequence, they break and slip easily.
Polyisoprene condoms are made from non-latex materials made from rubber. Condoms made from synthetic Polyisoprene show similar properties as natural rubber latex condoms and meet similar standards in physical test requirements. The advantage of using synthetic Polyisoprene is that it is consistent, has low-level impurities, and does not have the natural rubber latex proteins.
Types of Condoms
There are either internal or external condoms made of latex or non-latex materials for people with latex allergies. Internal condoms are women condoms that are placed inside a vagina while external condoms are male condoms. External condoms for makes are widely available but there are some differences that you should be aware of.
Ejaculation delayers: They contain benzocaine that numbs the nerve endings of the penis to delay ejaculation.
Skyn Condoms: They are non-latex male condoms made from Polyisoprene. The condoms were FDA approved in 2008 for pregnancy prevention as well as STD prevention.
Lambskin Condoms: These are non-latex condoms made from a natural animal product the intestinal membrane of a lamb. The condoms are also approved by the FDA, but only effective for contraception. Although their surfaces have small spores, sperms cannot pass through.
Trojan Condoms: Trojan condoms are non-latex condoms made from polyurethane. They are thinner than latex, better transmitters of body heat, strong, odorless, and offer pregnancy protection and STD’s.
Vegan Condoms: Vegan condoms are made of natural rubber. They are free from animal proteins, are odorless, and are ultrasensitive.
Which One is the Best for Barrier Protection?
Barrier protection is the use of condoms to protect against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Consequently, condoms help men avoid premature ejaculation and cervical cancer. When placed on an erect penis, they act as mechanical barriers that prevent the transfer of semen and exchange of infectious fluid between partners.
Most condoms are made of latex with others of non-latex materials such as lambskin. Both latex and lambskin condoms are effective contraceptives, they block the passage of sperm through their surfaces, however, lambskin condoms are not recommended for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
Laboratory test shows that lambskin condoms allow the passage of viruses, through small pores on the surface, including hepatitis B, herpes simplex, and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Also, laboratory tests show that condoms made from latex, polyurethane, and Polyisoprene do not allow HIV to pass through them, therefore, they provide protection from being exposed to infectious body fluids such as semen.
What You Should Avoid Using With Condoms to Avoid Leakage/Breakage
When used consistently and correctly, condoms are very effective. A very small percentage of women gets accidental pregnancy, moreover, when they are used with other birth control methods, one expects increased protection depending on the method used.
Storing them properly can help reduce the risk of leakage or breaking. Heat, direct sunlight, some oils, and chemicals can weaken them resulting in breakage. Heat and light can make them dry, only use water-based lubricants, and avoid using them after the expiry date.
Furthermore, long fingernails and sharp edges such as rings can tear them. As such, you should avoid excessive friction and non-lubricated condoms.
Condoms should not be used with petroleum jelly, lotions or baby oils as they cause the condom to break. Also, ensure that condoms are stored and carried correctly to avoid excess heat and friction that weakens them.
How to use Condoms to prevent them from Breakage
For efficiency, it is important to use condoms correctly for incorrect use can lead to breakage or leakage.
- Ensure that the condom you intend to use has the right fit (not too small or too large),
- Store the condoms in a cool place and regularly replace those that are in wallet, purse, or pockets which are exposed to too much friction.
- Check the expiry date before use,
- Handle them with care to avoid tearing, for example, avoid sharp objects when opening the package,
- Use a new condom for each act,
- Put it on and off consciously and correctly.
How do you select the right size?
Condoms come in different sizes and shapes, but how do you know the right size since you cannot go fitting around. The right size is essential for effectiveness and comfort.
The majority come in three sizes, large fit, standard fit, and snug fit. Most are long and need to just roll at the base. But if you do not want to roll, you will require a snug fit and if there is no roll left at the base, you will use a larger fit.
The girth is the thickest part of an erect penis. Its width is more important than the length. For example, a girth of less than 4.7” will use a snug fit, 4.7”-5.1” a standard fit, while a girth of 5.1”- 6” will use a large fit.
What sizes of condoms are available in the market?
Different manufacturers produce condoms in varying sizes without standard length. They are produced in a range of sizes. Even the width varies, for example, a slightly smaller width to give a close fit or slightly larger. There are regular, larger, or smaller condoms.
Additionally, made-to-measure condoms for people who cannot find a comfortable or the right size.
Which condoms are best for preventing STDs?
Condoms come in different colors, flavors, and texture. And it does not matter which one you choose but which one you like best. Nevertheless, the material used in making it is more important when making a selection.
Latex condoms are the best for preventing STDs, but if you are allergic to latex, polyurethane or Polyisoprene condoms are also better in preventing STDs. On the other hand, Lambskin condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy, but, Lambskin and other animal skin condoms do not protect well against STDs. Their natural pores are large enough to allow bacteria and viruses to pass through.
How to Apply and Remove a Condom
The majority of condoms are latex made consisting of a reservoir tip and a base ring connected to a thin latex tube. Each condom has a downside and a top side. After opening the package, the side with the reservoir tip pointing up is the top. Therefore, to apply, pinch the tip of the reservoir between two fingers and place it at the tip of an erect penis and roll the ring over the penis (use enough lubricant so the condom does not break).
To remove, grasp the base ring and gently pull out from your partner, carefully slide the condom off the penis before erection is lost making sure not to spill any semen. Wrap the used condom in a tissue and dispose of where nobody will touch it.
Which Condoms Feel the Most Natural?
Lambskin condoms provide increased sensitivity, they transmit body heat much better between partners and provide a feeling of more natural than latex.
Condoms are highly effective against most STDs and unintended pregnancies. They are also associated with lower risks of cervical cancer an HPV associated disease. Providing information about condoms does not increase sexual activity, but a way of promoting better health.