At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
A male condom is a prophylactic and a birth control option. It is designed to be placed over the penis before sexual contact to act as a barrier. It accomplishes its purposes by protecting the penis from vaginal secretions and by containing fluids from the penis so that a man's partner is not exposed to them.
The term prophylactic refers to an item or measure taken to prevent the spread of disease. There are two main purposes for the male condom, and one of them is to help protect both partners from the possibility of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When protection is not used during sexual contact, a man tends to release semen and sperm onto or into a woman's genitals. There are numerous infectious agents that can travel in these fluids. If a man has an infection, there is a likelihood that he will transmit it to his partner in this way.
Likewise, a man's partner may have an STI. If he is exposed to her fluids, he may become infected. By wearing a male condom over the penis, both individuals are protected from exposure to the other's fluids. It should also be understood that male condoms can effectively provide the same type of protection during homosexual encounters. Condoms are as highly encouraged in these instances as they are in heterosexual experiences.
The second major purpose of a male condom is to prevent pregnancy. This goal is accomplished in the same way as STIs are prevented. As a man's sperm is contained inside of the condom, a woman's egg cannot be fertilized. Individuals who use male condoms should realize that these items are highly effective, but they are not completely guaranteed. There is some possibility that a person can become pregnant or get infected even when a condom is worn.
The most common material used for making the male condom is latex, although there are some alternatives, such as polyurethane. There is a great deal of debate about whether a male condom affects the pleasure that people experience when having sex. Some people argue that there is a significant amount of difference, some say there is a slight difference, and others claim that they do not notice.
These debates have resulted in a substantial amount of effort being placed into improving condoms. For example, some are ribbed, and some are designed to be extra thin. Some condoms are flavored, and other contain warming lubricants.