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A condom is a contraceptive/safe sex device (see below). Condom is also a city in France.

A condom is a device, usually made of latex, that covers a man's penis during sexual intercourse to avoid pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis and AIDS.

The first clumsy efforts at making condoms involved the use of woven fabrics. These were obviously not effective. The earliest effective condoms were made of sheep gut or other animal membrane. These are still available today because of their ability to transmit body warmth and tactile sensation, but they are not as effective in preventing pregnancy and disease as synthetic condoms. When latex condoms were finally available, it was a big step forward in effectiveness and affordability. However, before the middle of the 20th century, many places outlawed the sale of condoms, and many subsequently allowed their sale "only" "for the prevention of disease."

The early latex condoms were pretty much all the same, except that some eventually came to have reservoir tips. One relatively early innovation, the "short cap", only covered the head of the penis. These were a dismal failure in reducing disease and pregnancy.

In recent decades, however, manufacturers have produced a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes of condoms, including ones that are flavored and ones that are supposed to have stimulating properties. Such stimulating properties include enlarged tips or pouches for a penis' head and textured surfaces such as ribbing or studs (small bumps). Many condoms have spermicidal lubricant added, but it is no substitute for separate spermicide use.

Condoms made from natural materials (such as those labelled "lambskin", made from lamb intestines) are not as effective at preventing disease. A few companies are today also making condoms from polyethylene and polyurethane, which are expected to be as effective as latex but which have not had as much testing. The alternate materials are useful for those who are allergic to latex.

Recently "female condoms" have become available. They are larger than male condoms and have a stiffened ring-shaped opening, and are designed to be inserted into the vagina. Sales of these have been disappointing, however, so they are not as widely available as they were at first.

As a method of contraception, condoms have the advantage of having virtually no side-effects, and of offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases. There is a paradox in the use of condoms for contraception: their theoretical effectiveness is relatively high, but their actual effectiveness is relatively low. This is because many people fail to rigorously follow the proper procedures for condom usage. Even touching the female genitalia with the same (unwashed) hand that removed the condom can potentially cause pregnancy. Furthermore, surveys have shown that many users do not know how to correctly put them on, resulting in bursts and slippages.

So, of themselves, condoms are only moderately reliable, but when combined with a spermicide[?] their reliability is comparable to other methods of contraception. Their disadvantage is that some people find them unpleasant, especially because they eliminate skin contact and reduce sensitivity, and that putting them on can interrupt lovemaking. Most failures are due to misuse. This has led some researchers to ask for earlier and more explicit sex education, but such efforts are fought by religious groups campaigning against premarital sex, who feel that explaining the use of condoms and other contraceptives to youngsters encourages such behavior.

Proper use of condoms involves the following:

  • Never handle with sharp fingernails.
  • Put on erect penis immediately when an erection is achieved, and definitely before any contact with the vagina or anus.
  • Leave some room at the tip of the condom to hold the semen: most condoms have a "teat" at the tip. Pinch this when applying to avoid an air bubble, which could cause a burst later
  • Water-based sexual lubricants may be used with condoms, but oil-based lubricants must be avoided since they weaken the latex. If the vagina of one's female partner is at all dry, lubricant should be used to reduce the abrasion on the condom, and it is virtually essential for anal sex.
  • The penis should be withdrawn immediately after ejaculation.
  • When withdrawing the penis, secure the condom at the base so that it doesn't slip off.
  • Wash hands and penis before further contact with your partner.
  • Never reuse condoms.

External link

Explicit instructions on condom use (http://www.positive.org/JustSayYes/safesex) and "safe sex" from The Coalition for Positive Sexuality[?] (CPS)

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