Description and mechanism of action
A condom is a sheath made of
latex, polyurethane or natural membrane (lambskin) that covers the
erected penis. It prevents sperm and bacteria from coming into contact
with the partner’s genitals.
A condom costs between 75¢ and
Latex, natural membrane or
Latex condoms are most popular for the following reasons: they are
offered in different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, colors and flavours.
They are also more resistant and less expensive. Furthermore, they
protect against STDs and HIV.
- Natural membrane
Condoms made of natural membrane are offered in one size only and
are thinner than most latex condoms; they are strongly lubricated
and odorized. These condoms transmit body heat more efficiently,
therefore increasing sensations and they can be an alternative for
those who are allergic to latex. The degree of protection they offer
against STDs is not demonstrated, but it is better to use a natural
membrane condom than to use none at all. However, if a person is
allergic to lanolin, the use of lambskin condoms must be avoided.
A polyurethane condom will soon be available on the Canadian market.
It will be more resistant than the latex condom and it will provide
improved sensations. It will also be compatible with oil-based
lubricants. It will better protect against STDs and HIV and will be
suitable for people who are allergic to latex.
The condom is 99% effective, when used each time
there is sexual activity, whatever the timing of the menstrual cycle and
when it is worn before any contact between the penis and the vulva or
Some condoms are pre-lubricated.
The lubricant helps penetration, reduces the risk of tearing and
improves sensations. If better lubrication is needed, you can use a
water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y, Surgilube or Lubafax.
You can also add a spermicide
(Ortho-Gynol cream, Delfen foam, Advantage 24), which will increase
protection against pregnancy and infections. In rare cases, some are
allergic to spermicides or lubricants.
Avoid oil-based lubricants
with latex condoms: Vaseline, hand creams, oil of any kind. Be
cautious of creams and ovules used for vaginal infections (Vagisil,
Monistat, etc.) that may also alter these condoms for up to 72 hours
after ending the treatment.
Female condom Reality¬.
The female condom is now sold in pharmacies for about $12 for a set of
three: there is only one model and one size. It is made of thin, soft
polyurethane. It has two flexible rings at each extremity. The inner
ring allows for the condom to be inserted and also ensures it stays in
place. Reality ¬ is said to be as effective as the male condom and it
also protects against STDs and HIV. It lines the vagina and therefore
does not compress or constrict the penis. Since polyurethane warms up
instantly when in contact with the body, it provides improved and more
Using a condom, anyone can
- Check the expiry date on the box: choose the
latest date (three to five years away).
- Keep condoms in a cool area and away from
light: as much as possible, avoid keeping condoms in a wallet, in
tight pant pockets or the car’s glove box.
- Plan ahead: always have condoms readily
available (on the night table, in a case in your handbag, schoolbag
or in your shirt or jacket pocket).
- Be assertive: do not hesitate to mix the
condom to your sexual encounters and add it to your sex play.
- Use a new condom each time you have
- Carefully open the packaging, avoiding
contact with rings, teeth and nails. Remove the condom only when you
are ready to use it and do not test it by stretching it, inflating
it or by unrolling it.
- One partner or the other must put the condom
on the penis before any genital, oral or anal contact.
- Unroll about one centimetre of the condom and
pinch the air out of the tip of the condom with your fingertips.
- After pulling back the foreskin, unroll the
condom all the way to the base of the penis, as far as possible.
- After ejaculation, the penis must retire
while still erect, firmly holding on to the base of the condom: make
sure the condom is in good condition.
- Discard the condom in the garbage: it is not
- The penis must not touch the vagina as sperm
may still flow from it.
A safe condom must have a
batch number and an expiry date. It can be purchased from a pharmacy,
a vending machine, a sex-shop, a supermarket or a convenience store.
The most expensive condom does not necessarily provide the best
Small drops of transparent
liquid that humidify and lubricate the tip of the erected penis may
contain spermatozoids that could result in fertilization if they are
located at the entrance of the vagina or in the vagina.
Condom tears generally occur
as a consequence of abusive or prolonged use, poor storage
conditions, a lapsed expiry date or because an inadequate lubricant
was used. Condom tears are more frequent during anal intercourse.
Condoms may break during unwrapping, when putting it on or removing
it. It is important to throw away the condom if it is smelly, if its
texture is greasy or if chemical substances have crystallized.
If the condom breaks…
- You can see a doctor to obtain an emergency (morning-after)
oral contraceptive or IUD.
- You can use spermicides immediately. This is
less effective than the above measure.
- You can also undergo screening tests for AIDS
or other STDs.
A condom for all occasions!
- Un condom pour chacun, pour tous les goûts
et pour chaque occasion (Adapted from Turgeon F. Steben M. Les
maladies transmissibles sexuellement. Montréal : Les presses de
l’Université de Montréal, 1994 : 330-2).
- An ordinary condom, for contraception and
for preventing AIDS and other STDs
Lubricated latex condom: Shields Protection¬, Sheik Sensi Cream¬,
Ramses Sensitol¬, Trojan-Enz¬, LifeStyles¬.
Avoid natural membrane condoms. Fourex¬, Naturalamb¬)
For maximum protection: Ramses Ultra15¬, Trojan-Enz¬, Ultra texture
- A condom that increases sensations
Add a drop of lubricant (Lubafax¬, K - Y ¬, Surgilube¬) on the glans.
Thinner condom: Conceptrol Supreme¬, LifeStyles Nuda¬, Sheik Sensi-Thin
¬, Trojan Plus¬, Japanese.
Ribbed condom: Ramses Basic¬, Titan Ribbed¬, Trojan Naturalube¬.
Natural membrane condom: Trojan Kling-Tite¬, Naturalamb¬.
A condom for oral
Non-lubricated condom: Ramses Basic¬, Sheik Basic ¬, Trojan Basic¬.
A condom for anal
Adjusted condom: Ramses Extra Strength¬, Shields Protection X¬. Add
a water-soluble lubricant: Lubafax¬, K-Y ¬, Surgilube¬.
A condom for a smaller
Conceptrol Supreme¬. Use Ortho condoms, they are generally smaller.
A condom for a larger
Condoms made by Julius Schmid (Ramses¬, Sheik¬, Trojan¬).
A safe "gadget"
condom to offset monotony
Ramses Ribbed¬, Sheik Excita Sensi-Ribbed¬,
Fruty¬, Trojan Naturalube¬, Titan Ribbed¬ and LifeStyles¬, various
colours. Avoid sex-shop condoms if they do not have a batch number
or expiry date.
To avoid condom tear
Ramses Ultra¬ Ortho Shield Protection¬. Add lubricant. Re-examine
the way the condom is used during sexual intercourse.
To avoid premature
Avoid ultra-thin condoms or natural membrane condoms. Lubricate
If the condom slips
There is too much lubricant. Hold the condom or put it back in
In case of vaginal or
Choose a non-lubricated condom and add
a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y¬, Lubafax¬, Surgilube¬. Change
brand of lubricated condom.
Use a water-soluble lubricant. Change
brand of condom.
In case of allergy to
Choose a polyurethane or natural
If sensation is lessened
and it is more difficult to maintain erection because the condom
hinders sexual intercourse
Include the condom in sex play. Use humour and creativity. Use a
thinner condom, a natural membrane or Japanese condom.
If it is difficult to put
on the condom
Practice alone or with your partner,
by unrolling it on a banana, etc.
When condoms are not
Make sure you have some on you and
keep condoms in the house and in other location.
The above is translated from an excellent text produced by the family
planning team at the Centre hospitalier régional de Rimouski.