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Condom is a type of barrier device commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS. It is put on an erect penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner. Condoms are also used for collection of semen for use in infertility treatment. In the modern age, condoms are most often made from latex, but some are made from other materials such as polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lamb intestine. A female condom is also available and often made of nitrile.
As a method of birth control, male condoms have the advantages of being inexpensive, easy to use, having few side effects, and offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms have been in use for at least 400 years and have been one of the most popular methods of contraception in the world.
Condoms (male or female) are also used to protect against STIs, and used with other forms of contraception to improve contraceptive effectiveness. For example, simultaneously using both the male condom and spermicide applied separately is believed to reduce pregnancy rates to those seen among implant users. However, if two condoms are used simultaneously like male condom on top of male condom, or male condom inside female condom, this increases the chance of condom failure and thus should be avoided.
Male condoms are most frequently made of latex, and can also be made out of synthetic materials including polyurethane it covers the penis during sexual activity while the female condoms are inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse.
Female condoms are made of two flexible polyurethane rings and a loose-fitting polyurethane sheath. According to laboratory testing, female condoms are more effective in preventing the leakage of body fluids and also in transmission of STIs and HIV. Research has shown that structural integrity of polyurethane female condoms is not damaged during up to five uses if it is disinfected with water and household bleach. However, regardless of this study, specialists still recommend that female condoms be used only once and then discarded.
Male condoms have typical use first-year failure rates of 18% and with perfect use about 2%. Condoms have the additional benefit of helping to prevent the spread of some sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS.