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What is a condom?

A condom is a thin piece of latex, polyiosprene or polyurethane that is worn over the penis during oral, anal or vaginal intercourse to prevent pre-ejaculatory (pre-cum) fluid or semen from entering a partner’s mouth, anus or vagina. Condoms can be made of latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane and natural skin, but only latex, polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Some condoms are called “novelty” condoms, meaning they’re just for fun and probably don’t protect against STDs. Be sure to read the package carefully so you know what kind of condom you’re using and if it meets the needs that you have.

Condoms come in different colors, flavors and textures. Some are lubricated to reduce friction and the chance of breakage. Others have the spermicide known as Nonoxynol-9, which does double duty. It kills sperm and lubricates. (Condoms lubricated with Nonoxynol-9 can be irritating. If you experience burning or itching, stop using them. Also, it is best to NOT use a condom lubricated with Nonoxynol-9 during anal intercourse).

Flavored condoms are supposed to be used only during oral sex. Don’t use them for vaginal or anal sex because the flavoring might irritate the vagina or anus.

Anybody, no matter their age, can buy condoms in most drug, grocery or convenience stores. Condoms usually cost about a dollar each, but many family planning clinics give condoms out for free or at a discounted price. You can also buy condoms through some websites.

Make sure you know the steps to using a condom properly.

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