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What are condoms?

A condom is a stretchy tube of latex rubber or polyurethane. One end is closed. Most condoms have a small pouch at the closed end (the teat), which collects semen and holds it in the condom. Condoms are designed to fit over the erect penis, so put the condom on when the penis is erect. If you try to put it on to a soft penis, it will fall off.

How effective are condoms?

Latex condoms have a contraceptive failure rate of 3% per year. This means that if 100 couples having regular sex used condoms correctly every time (see using a condom – do’s and don’ts) for a year, 3 of the women would become pregnant. Of course, if you do not use condoms every time you have sex, or if you do not use them properly, they will not be as effective, and the ‘failure rate’ would be about 15%.
Condoms have an important advantage over other types of contraception – they give good protection against sexually transmitted diseases. As a result, many women who use the contraceptive pill for protection against pregnancy, still like their partner to use condoms.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Monday, January 29th 2018


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Comments on this article

Posted by Guru on 07/01/2016 at 06:35

I am new married man I was use manforce dotted condom for first time after,few day I got little spot inside of my penis, I am worried very much .please suggest me

Posted by Optional on 26/12/2011 at 01:28

hi i have a condom broken wat i can do new plz

Posted by VANSA on 03/12/2010 at 10:53


Posted by chris on 11/11/2010 at 05:59

hi, is condom safe for every thing, specaily for woman, is she safe in every way? will not have any enternal problem because of condom?

Posted by dorris on 20/09/2010 at 05:16

Hello There, I Was Woundering If You Can Still Have Sex When You Have Thrush?

Posted by toni on 22/07/2010 at 03:44

can you have sex with a condom when you have chlamydia

Posted by Anonymous on 25/01/2010 at 02:43

They are most deffinatly not called "French Letters" in England there called condoms or "Jonies". I'm A English guy and that's the first time I've ever seen the Phrase "French Letters"


View what people have said about condoms

Fascinating facts

Early condoms were made of linen or pig or sheep's gut, tied at the end with ribbon. After sex, they were rinsed out and reused!

An 18th-century illustrated condom, featuring three naughty nuns, was sold at a Christie's auction for £3,300

There is no truth in the story that condoms were invented by a Dr Condom, physician to Charles II

Although it has been suggested that condoms were used by the Ancient Egyptians, the earliest actual report of a condom was by the Italian anatomist, Fallapio in 1564. He claimed to have invented a linen sheath, made to fit the penis, as protection against syphilis

In England, condoms are known as 'French Letters'. In Italy, they used to be called 'English Overcoats'

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