Sexual Health & Education

What You Need to Know About Condoms? – A Comprehensive Guide

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Condoms are barrier devices used during sexual intercourse, offering dual protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies.

Two Varieties of Condoms Await You:
External condoms, commonly cloaking the male anatomy.
Internal condoms, inserted within the vaginal cavity and often termed “female condoms.”
In this article, we will delve into the essential knowledge about External condoms, starting with their composition.

Understanding the Barrier: How Condoms Operate

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Acting as a formidable barricade, external condoms are engineered from ultra-thin materials like latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene. Their primary objective is to inhibit the male gametes from rendezvousing with the ovum, thereby curtailing the potential for conception. Beyond that, when employed judiciously during vaginal, anal, or oral intimacy, they serve as a bulwark against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Be cautious—any genital contact prior to donning a condom could still result in seminal discharge, even before climax. In such circumstances, consult healthcare providers for emergency contraception or STI evaluation.

The Composition of Condom Lubricants:

Condom lubricants generally fall into three categories: water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based.

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Water-based lubricants:

Water-based lubricants typically contain water and glycerin. They have simple compositions, are easy to clean, and have a pH similar to the vaginal environment, which prevents disruptions to its acidity. Water-based condoms are less likely to cause allergic reactions, and they tend to be thin, elastic, and provide a natural sensation. They conform closely to the body, reducing any foreign body sensation during use. However, a drawback of water-based lubricants is that they can evaporate relatively quickly, usually within about 15 minutes. Nevertheless, this duration is sufficient for most individuals.

Silicone-based lubricants:

Silicone-based lubricants use dimethicone as their main ingredient. They offer better durability during intercourse, as they are less prone to breakage. Silicone-based lubricants are colorless, odorless, and generally harmless to the body. They provide long-lasting lubrication and are widely available in the market. However, silicone-based lubricants are less convenient to clean after use compared to water-based alternatives. It is also not recommended to use silicone-based lubricants with silicone sex toys, as the similar components may cause them to dissolve.

Oil-based lubricants:

Oil-based lubricants are relatively uncommon in the market. They typically include ingredients such as petroleum jelly and plant oils. Oil-based lubricants offer excellent lubrication properties, but their disadvantages outweigh the benefits. They are greasy and not easily cleanable, leaving residue behind. Additionally, oil-based lubricants can damage the condom, reducing its effectiveness for contraception. Moreover, these lubricants are not easily broken down within the female body, potentially leading to infections and inflammations.

Considering the information above, it is preferable to choose water-based or silicone-based condoms. After intercourse, it is recommended for women to clean their external genitalia with warm water to maintain cleanliness.

Effects of Lubricants Ingested from Condoms:

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Rest assured, ingesting the lubricants found on condoms will not have any adverse effects on the body. Generally, reputable manufacturers use lubricants that are food-grade, meaning they are safe for consumption. However, there are no particular benefits to ingesting them either. To enhance sexual pleasure, many manufacturers offer flavored condoms (such as strawberry, vanilla, or pineapple) and edible lubricants specifically designed for oral activities. Nevertheless, it is advisable to choose colorless and odorless options to minimize the introduction of additional chemical components.

Primary Component of Condoms – Latex:
Now, let’s discuss the latex used in condoms. While sexual intercourse is intended to be enjoyable, some individuals may experience itching, irritation, increased vaginal discharge, or small rashes after intercourse. These symptoms are often mistaken as allergies to the lubricants on the condom. However, in most cases, they are caused by an intolerance to latex materials in women.

Latex allergy reactions occur when individuals possess latex-specific IgE antibodies, resulting in immediate hypersensitivity or delayed hypersensitivity upon contact with natural latex products, such as gloves, bottle stoppers, or condoms. Latex can induce allergies through skin, mucosal, or intestinal exposure.

If a woman suspects a latex allergy during intercourse, immediate actions should be taken:

Discontinue using latex condoms and switch to alternative materials like polyurethane condoms.
Avoid scratching the itchy area to prevent skin damage and potential infections.
Clean the external genitalia with warm water and pat dry. Avoid using soap or hot water, as they may cause unnecessary irritation.
In most cases, women with latex allergies experience temporary discomfort that can be alleviated by following the above measures. However, if the symptoms persist, it is advisable to seek medical assistance from a gynecologist.

How to use a condom

Extricate the condom from its wrapper, taking pains to avoid accidental perforation via jewelry or fingernails. Teeth are not recommended tools for this task.
Position the condom atop the engorged phallus.
If the condom features an apical reservoir, expel any trapped air by compressing it between thumb and forefinger.
Gently unspool the condom down the shaft, anchoring it at the base.
Encountering roll-down resistance? You’re likely grasping it in a reversed orientation. Dispose of the contaminated one and recommence with a pristine substitute.
Post-coitus, while the penis remains erect, grip the condom at its base and withdraw cautiously.
Dispose of the used condom responsibly in a waste receptacle; toilets are not suitable venues.
Abstain from subsequent genital contact without first applying a fresh condom.

Important Reminder:

Currently, there are counterfeit condoms circulating in the market that closely resemble genuine products in packaging. It is crucial to be vigilant when purchasing and using condoms, ensuring their authenticity. Fake condoms not only have lower contraceptive efficacy but also pose a higher risk of various gynecological conditions.

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