All About Condoms
By Jack McNeilly, 17, Staff Writer
Originally Published: October 5, 2017
Revised: January 3, 2019
Condoms have long been a hot topic at Sex, Etc., as teens often have questions about what kind to get, how effective they are and how to use them correctly. This is pretty cool, actually, because it means that a lot of you are interested in safer sex and doing something about it! We thought it would be helpful to do an article about condom basics.
Most important to know: condoms work really well. When used correctly and consistently each time you have oral, anal or vaginal sex, you are greatly lowering the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). With vaginal sex, correct and consistent condom use lowers the chance of pregnancy. It’s important to use them correctly. Condoms prevent pregnancies about 98 percent of the time when used perfectly but typical usage effectiveness rates hover around 82 percent. For those curious about condoms—how to choose the right one for you, how well they work, even how to properly store and use one—this article is for you!
Types of Condoms
Did you know that there are different types of condoms? Read on to learn more about the variety of condoms available to you.
You can find condoms in lots of places: drugstores, supermarkets, health centers, like Planned Parenthood, and online.
Latex condoms are the most commonly known and widely available. They are durable and resistant to ripping when used with a water-based lubricant. Most condoms on the market are latex. The only drawback is that some people are allergic to latex.
Polyurethane or Polyisoprene
These condoms are a good alternative to those made from latex, although they may be slightly harder to find. They’re also durable, and some say they allow for more sensation than latex condoms. Polyurethane and polyisoprene condoms are a great option for people with latex allergies and can be used with any kind of lubricant.
Natural skin condoms do not protect against STDs. There are pores or tiny holes in natural skin condoms STDs can seep through. Natural skin condoms are typically used solely to prevent pregnancy.
Flavored condoms reduce the risk of passing on STDs during oral sex. They should not be used during vaginal or anal sex since the sugary stuff that creates the flavoring can also cause things like yeast infections.
Internal (Also Known as Female Condoms)
The image that typically comes to mind when condoms are mentioned is the external or “male” condom. Less talked about is the internal condom, which you may have heard referred to as the “female condom.” Female condoms are made from polyurethane or nitrile and offer protection during vaginal and anal sex. This type of condom has two rings that are flexible; the smaller ring goes inside the vagina or anus while the wider ring stays outside. These rings help secure the condom. Some people choose to remove the inner ring when they use an internal condom during anal sex.
How to Buy and Store Condoms
It’s not hard to imagine that this purchase can come with some side-eye looks and embarrassment. But safer sex is incredibly important, and there is no age requirement for buying condoms. You can find condoms in lots of places: drugstores, supermarkets, health centers, like Planned Parenthood, and online. Here are some basic but important steps to keep in mind:
- Buy the right size.
What most people don’t realize is that condoms stretch. A lot. Very few truly need the gargantuan, magnum-sized condoms. Though those who need them find them more comfortable, it’s a bad idea for people with a regular-sized penis to use these larger condoms because a condom that is too big can easily slip off.
- Store them properly.
Condoms can’t be kept just anywhere. Don’t keep condoms in your pocket or wallet or a car, as the condom could be damaged. The best places to store them are in cool, dry spaces that are at or below room temperature. Condoms should not be stored anywhere warmer than 100 degrees or cooler than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and should also be kept out of direct sunlight.
There you have it: some basic but important information about condoms. Condoms are one of the most popular and effective ways to prevent pregnancy and protect yourself from the spread of STDs, so selecting the type best suited to your needs and using them correctly is incredibly important!
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