Condom Use

Condom Use: Overview

Alternative Names: Prophylactics, rubbers, sheaths, or French letters

One of the oldest and most used forms of birth control is the condom.  They work well to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).  This protection, however, is not perfect and is less effective than birth control pills, IUDs, or progesterone implants at preventing pregnancy.

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Most condoms are made of latex, have a blunt or reservoir tip, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colors.  They may be lubricated and have a spermicide applied.  They will last for over two years in their foil wraps.  Recently, plastic condoms have been approved for use.


Old-fashioned condoms made of lambskin do not provide protection from sexual diseases.

Expected Outcome; Counter-Indicators and Warnings

Condoms fail most often because they are not being used, rather than from actual mechanical failure.  The failure rate is about 3-6% with actual use.

Never use oil-based lubricants with condoms as it weakens the latex and may cause condom failure.  Check the label to make sure the lubricant is water-based.

On This Page

Condom Use:

Condom Use can help prevent the following:


Semen Allergy

Condoms can be used to prevent both localized and systemic reactions to semen.  Because of this protective effect, they can also be used to determine if a semen allergy is present.  There is a strong possibility that a semen allergy exists if there are symptoms when a condom is not used, but none when one is used.

Sexually-Transmitted Diseases

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Very useful: usually prevents
Very useful:
usually prevents