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When used properly, latex or polyurethane condoms prevent HIV transmission.

Condoms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are even flavored condoms. Which condom is most appropriate for any particular person is an individual choice. However, condoms made of natural membranes ("skin" or lambskin") may contain natural pores. They are therefore not recommended for to prevent transmission of HIV.

Since condoms are classified as medical devices, their manufacture is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Condom manufacturers in the United States test each latex condom for defects, including holes.

Every aspect of condom use is important: from storage through disposal. Therefore, we recommend that you read each section of the following.

If you have additional questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Condom Storage

Condoms can be affected by both heat and light. It is preferable not to store condoms in:

  • The glove box of your car.
  • Your wallet.
  • The pocket of tight fitting pants.
  • Direct sunlight.

Before Using A Condom

Check the condom before use. Don't use a condom if:

  • The packaging has been breached.
  • Something appears wrong with the condom.
  • The expiration date on the package has passed. Condoms can deteriorate over time.

Putting On A Condom

If you aren't sure how to put on a condom properly, see: How To Put On A Male Condom.

Water based lubricants can be used with a condom. Oil based lubricants cannot be used with a condom because they can break the condom. (It is also better not to use condoms with Nonoxynol-9 in them unless that is all that is available).

Use Of A Condom

During use, condoms should be checked periodically. They can break, tear or split. Several studies of correct and consistent condom use show that latex condom breakage rates in this country are less than 2 percent.

  • If a condom breaks, pull out immediately and replace the condom.
  • If it is possible that semen was transferred, contact your doctor or visit an emergency room immediately.

After ejaculating:

  • Hold the condom by the base when pulling out to assure that it doesn't come off.
  • Remove the condom while the penis is still hard.
  • Wipe any ejaculate from the penis.

Condoms should not be used more than once.

Disposing Of A Condom

When disposing of a condom, it is preferable dispose of it with the garbage. Condoms should not be thrown down the toilet or out of a car. Either action damages the environment.

Free Condoms

Free condoms are generally available at state and local health departments, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics and nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organizations.

You can also get free condoms at offsite link. (You have to put up with a lot of ads to complete an order, but the condoms are free).

Where To Purchase A Condom

Condoms can be purchased in a drug store, adult shops, supermarkets and convenience stores. There are also vending machines in many public toilets. Condoms can also be ordered online.