This chapter describes male latex condoms. Female condoms, which usually are plastic and inserted into a woman's vagina, are available in some areas (see Female Condoms and Comparing Condoms).

Key Points for Providers and Clients
  • Male condoms help protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Condoms are the only contraceptive method that can protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Require correct use with every act of sex for greatest effectiveness.
  • Require both male and female partner's cooperation. Talking about condom use before sex can improve the chances one will be used.
  • May dull the sensation of sex for some men. Discussion between partners sometimes can help overcome this objection.

What Are Male Condoms?

  • Sheaths, or coverings, that fit over a man's erect penis.
  • Also called rubbers, “raincoats,” “umbrellas,” skins, prophylactics and preservativos; known by many different brand names.
  • Most are made of thin latex rubber. Male condoms also are made from other materials, including polyurethane, polyisoprene, lambskin, and nitrile.
  • Work by forming a barrier that keeps sperm out of the vagina, preventing pregnancy. Also keep infections in semen, on the penis, or in the vagina from infecting the other partner.