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The Benefits Of Each Kind Of Condom

Jun 27, 2008
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing heterosexual transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive.

Latex condoms that contain spermicide should not be used more than two years after the manufacture date. Condoms that do not contain spermicide can be used up to 5 years after the manufacturer's date. Latex condoms cost about 50 cents each, or less if you're buying in bulk. Some family planning clinics give them away free.

Latex condoms manufactured by Japanese companies for the US market have to meet quality standards for both countries. Before it is packaged, each and every condom is fitted on an underwater, metal rod and zapped with a weak electrical charge.

Lubrication can be used to reduce the abrasion on the condom during vaginal sex, and is virtually essential for anal sex . However lubrication should be used with care. Lubricated condoms with Nonoxynol-9 spermicide have not been shown to offer any increased protection.

Some infectious organisms can pass through condoms made of lambs intestines (natural skin condoms) and so they are not reliable for preventing HIV/STIs. Lubricants used with latex condoms must be latex compatible. Commonly used safe lubes are water or silicone-based.

Lubrication may give some extra protection in preventing pregnancy, especially if the condom breaks. Lubricated condoms taste bad and are not recommended for oral sex.

Female condoms are sold at most drugstores and at some supermarkets. Female condoms are also available at some health departments and family planning clinics. Female condoms are usually made of polyurethane or latex and are as effective against pregnancy and disease as male condoms. They are relatively new and are more expensive than male condoms. Female condoms also can reduce risk of infection.

In a recent revision to the WHO List of Essential Medicines , WHO stated that nonoxynol-9 coated condoms are no longer recommended (unless there is no alternative condom available) because nonoxynol-9 does not provide additional protection against pregnancy or STIs, and could perhaps be harmful by causing epithelial disruption on frequent exposure, resulting in an increased risk of STI and HIV infection.

Polyurethane possesses some unique benefits: it is heat conductive (warming to body temperature), has no taste or odor, and, unlike latex, can be used safely with oil-based lubricants. Polyurethane condoms offer an alternative to people with latex allergies.

A study is being done to determine the risks of pregnancy and STDs, including HIV infection (AIDS), when using this condom. Polyurethane (plastic) condoms, which include the Reality female condom (see below) and some types of male condoms, are another option if either partner is allergic to latex.

Polyurethane condoms were associated with less local irritation, and men and women rated them significantly higher than latex condoms for comfort and sensitivity. Although users of polyurethane condoms reported lower confidence in this product at the beginning of the study, they were more likely than users of the latex condom to recommend the product to a friend.
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