What Are Condoms Made Of?
One of the most popular forms of non-prescription birth control, male condoms
are sheaths made of latex, polyurethane or other rubber-like materials.
How Do Condoms Work?
During vaginal intercourse, the sheath of the condom covers the penis, capturing semen to prevent fertilization from occurring.
How Effective Are Condoms?
When used correctly and consistently, condoms are 97 percent effective as birth control. They can be quickly slipped onto the penis in the heat of the moment, so intercourse can remain spontaneous.
Do Condoms Prevent STDs?
Male condoms are highly effective at preventing the spread of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) because they prevent body fluids from being exchanged. You can use male condoms to practice safe sex during vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.
What Kinds of Condoms Are There?
Condoms come in many sizes and types, and you can even find specialty products like flavored condoms
for oral sex. Ribbed condoms
are also available for maximizing the pleasure of the partner being penetrated during intercourse.
What Do Spermicides Do?
Spermicides are chemicals that paralyze sperm, preventing them from moving and causing them to die. You can purchase spermicide foams, gels, creams, suppositories and films to insert into the vagina prior to sex. Used on their own, spermicides are 85 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Most often, health care providers recommend combining spermicides with other forms of birth control. You can purchase spermicidal condoms
that are lubricated with spermicide, or you can use a standalone spermicide product along with male condoms. Keep in mind that spermicides on their own are not intended to provide protection from STIs.
How Does the Sponge Work?
Spermicide is just one of the many contraceptive options available for women who are looking for over-the-counter birth control solutions. Another popular option is the vaginal sponge, a soft sponge that is inserted into the vagina and worn over the cervix. When coated with spermicide, the vaginal sponge is 88 to 91 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. It does not provide protection from STIs.
Do Female Condoms Work?
If you're looking for a contraceptive for women that does provide STI protection, the female condom is an ideal choice. Like a male condom, a female condom is used to capture semen, but it is worn inside of the vagina rather than over the penis. When used correctly as a contraceptive, the female condom has a 95 percent effectiveness rate.
What Birth Control Is Best For Me?
To decide which type of contraceptive is right for you, you'll need to determine whether you wish to be the partner responsible for wearing and using the contraceptive. You should also consider your sexual histories, whether or not your relationship is monogamous and what type of intercourse you'll be engaging in when choosing contraceptives. Your health care provider can provide you with individualized advice regarding birth control and STI prevention.
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