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Male Condoms

What are condoms?

Condoms are used by men to prevent pregnancy by acting as a barrier against sperm. Condoms are made of latex, polyurethane (silicone), or natural skin. They are popular because they are inexpensive, do not require a prescription or visit to a doctor, can help prevent certain sexually transmitted diseases, and are easy to use.

How do condoms work?

Condoms are placed over the penis. During sex any semen that is released is captured in the tip of the condom. Sperm cannot enter the female and fertilize an egg, thus pregnancy is prevented. Some condoms are treated with spermicide which kills some of the sperm.

How effective are condoms for men?


Annual Failure Rate

Condoms have an overall annual failure rate of 14%. That means each year about 1 in 7 condom users experience an unplanned pregnancy. Condoms have a lower annual failure rate of 10% for married couples, but a higher rate of 24% for cohabiting couples. Condoms are also less effective for people aged 18-24, with a failure rate of 18%.

Spermicidal condoms may reduce the risk of pregnancy somewhat, but have not been proven to be more effective. Silicone condoms are slightly less effective than the latex variety. Expired condoms or condoms that have been exposed to excessive heat will be less effective than new ones. Male condoms are more effective than female condoms.

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unrolled condom

Condoms can help prevent pregnancy and STDs, but they are not 100% effective.

Side-effects and health risks of condoms:

Side-effects include irritation due to latex allergy, urinary tract infection, and yeast infection. Compared to other methods of birth control, condoms are relatively safe.

Considerations for Christians about condoms:

Many Christians object to condoms because of the way they are aggressively marketed to teens and singles. Although condoms are more effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs than using nothing at all, they are not even close to 100% effective. It is still possible to get pregnant and contract an STD while using a condom, and this happens to many unsuspecting young people every year. Abstinence is better than "safer sex" when people are in unmarried relationships that will typically put them at higher risk for STDs.

Condoms are considered artificial contraception, and as such are not permissible for use by Roman Catholics. Most Protestant denominations, however, have no objections to using condoms within marriage.

Related Links

A Couple's Guide to Better Birth Control, Conscientious Contraception, and Sensible Sexuality

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