The Male Condom: A Man’s Wingman or Best Bro

Did you know there are FOUR types of male condoms?


Male condoms can be made of latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, or sheepskin. Here’s what you need to know about each type:

  • Latex condoms are the most widely available and the most effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections.
  • Polyurethane condoms are thinner than latex condoms so they provide increased sensitivity. These condoms also protect against STDs and are a great option if you are allergic to latex condoms.
  • Polyisoprene condoms can be used if you have an allergy to latex or polyurethane. These condoms have a softer and more natural feel compared to polyurethane while providing the same protection against STDs.
  • Sheepskin condoms transmit body heat well and prevent pregnancy but not STDs.  The pores are small enough to prevent sperm from passing through, but not small enough to keep viruses and bacteria from passing through.

While male condoms are fairly effective* as contraceptives, male condoms (other than sheepskin) are very effective at preventing transmission of diseases and infections transmitted by genital fluids, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and HIV. Just remember that the condom only covers the shaft of the penis, so other infections that are primarily transmitted by skin-to-skin contact could still occur from areas not covered by a condom, such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and chancroid.

These are the most popular type of birth control currently out there. Not only are condoms readily available at your local drugstore, they are also fairly easy to use.

There is a fifth type of condom…the female condom! More to come on that product in an upcoming post.

Ask yourself! How many other names can you list for “condom”? Find out some of the condom slang in this Guy’s Guide to Condoms video:

* Male condoms are only considered fairly effective at preventing pregnancy since 18% of women relying on male condoms will have an unintended pregnancy in the first year of use.

About the Author: Kevin Vu is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Reference:  “Condom Fact Sheet In Brief.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.  (Photo credit: meddygarnet via Flickr)

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