HealthCareMagic is now Ask A Doctor - 24x7 |

Get your health question answered instantly from our pool of 18000+ doctors from over 80 specialties
159 Doctors Online

By proceeding, I accept the Terms and Conditions

Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

HCM Blog Instant Access to Doctors
HCM BlogQuestions Answered
HCM Blog Satisfaction
Article Home Men's Health Male condoms

Male condoms

Male condoms, commonly called rubbers, provide a nonpermanent method of contraception for men. The condom is a thin covering made of latex, plastic (polyurethane) or animal membrane that is unrolled over an erect penis before sex. The covering prevents semen from entering a woman's vagina.

Effectiveness rate:
The typical effectiveness rate of the male condom by itself is 85 percent. This means if 100 couples use male condoms for one year, 15 will get pregnant. The effectiveness of male condoms increases when used with vaginal spermicide; using both together is the most effective barrier method available. However, male condoms can fail due to improper use, nonuse, breakage or slippage.

Side effects and health risks:
Some people are allergic to latex condoms. But condoms made of polyurethane (plastic) or animal skin also is available. Male condoms may decrease sensation during sex for both men and women.

The male condom is the most effective contraceptive method available for avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and reducing the risk of HIV infection. Condoms made from animal skin do not offer as much protection from STDs, however, because they have tiny pores that may allow viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and herpes to pass through them. Condoms containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9 sometimes irritate the skin. If this happens, the risk of HIV infection could go up. Skin irritation leading to increased HIV risk can also happen when condoms are used in combination with vaginal spermicide.

How to use the male condom:
If you decide to use a male condom, put it on before the penis comes in contact with the vagina. It is important to use condoms carefully, correctly and consistently. Here are some additional tips for purchasing, storing and using condoms:

  • Check the expiration date. Do not use the condom if the expiration date has passed.
  • Open the package carefully. Do not use your teeth or fingernails.
  • If the condom does not have a built-in nipple, leave a quarter inch of space at the tip to hold the semen.
  • If necessary, use a water-based lubricant (K-Y, Astroglide, others). Oil-based lubricants may cause the condom to leak or break.
  • Place the tip of the rolled-up condom over the erect penis. The rolled rim should be on the outside.
  • Hold the tip of the condom while unrolling the condom down to the base of the penis.
  • Smooth out any air bubbles to make sure the condom fits correctly. An air bubble could cause the condom to tear or come off.
  • If the man is uncircumcised, make sure the foreskin is pulled back before putting on the condom.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place because condoms exposed to air, heat and light are more likely to break. Do not keep condoms in a billfold, back pocket or glove compartment for an extended period of time.
  • Remove the condom immediately after sex. You must use a new condom each time you have intercourse.


Cost and availability: Condoms are widely available and relatively inexpensive. They come in a range of sizes and styles and are available without a doctor's prescription. They're sold in pharmacies, drugstores.