Latex Condoms for Birth Control

Latex Condom on blue fabric
Latex Condoms. Photo © 2015 Dawn Stacey

Latex condoms are a type of male condom. They are a type of barrier method of birth control — which means they work by blocking sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Latex condoms are flexible, thin sheaths that are made from latex (which is a kind of rubber), and formed in the shape of a penis. They are designed to cover the penis during sexual intercourse to protect against pregnancy and/or as a way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Besides a vasectomy, condoms are the only birth control method available to men.

How Great Are Latex Condoms?

Latex condoms are, by far, the most widely available and least expensive of all the condom types. There are even condom apps that you can use that can tell you the closest place to buy condoms or give you condom tips. Latex condoms are also effective in preventing BOTH pregnancy and many STDs (including HIV). They tend to be the most common condom type because they are offered in many brands, colors, shapes, textures, flavors, and sizes. The effectiveness of latex condoms ranges between 82%-98%. This means that in one year, out of 100 women whose partners use condoms, 2-18 will become pregnant.

Latex condoms are most effective when you are using the right size condom, the correct way, every time you have sex. They can be even more effective if you use them with spermicide. Latex condoms are easy to use, and you can even find some sexy ways to introduce them to your sex play — you can both put on the condom together, or try to go handless, and put the condom on with your mouth.

The Downside of Latex Condoms

Latex condoms have gotten a bad wrap (no pun intended). There are many myths and misconceptions about condom use. Some guys complain that latex condoms are uncomfortable or ruin the mood. But this can be easily solved by experimenting with different size condoms as well as thicker/thinner ones and different shapes. Another downside of latex condoms is that about 6 in every 100 people have a latex allergy, so they can't use any product that contains latex. If this is the case for you, instead of latex condoms, you can use polyisoprene or polyurethane condoms, female condoms, or you can try L. Condoms — these condoms are made by reducing the proteins in the latex that cause allergies.

Are There Any Precautions About Latex Condoms?

Generally speaking, latex condom use is fairly easy. There are only a few things to keep in mind if you choose to use latex condoms: 

  1. If you want to use extra lubrication, only water-based lubricants (like Astroglide or Wet Gellee) and silicone-based lubricants can be used with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants (like petroleum jelly, butter, or vegetable oils) will damage the latex.
  2. Over time, latex condoms can become dry and brittle. This makes them more likely to break. So, make sure to properly store your condoms (not in a wallet or other hot places) and do not use them if it passes the expiration date marked on the package.
  3. Do not reuse a latex condom. Some people think it's okay to wash it after having sex and then use it again. This is not a good idea.
  4. Never use two latex condoms together (or a male and female condom) — this may cause added friction which may lead to condom breakage.


la•tex [ley-teks] con•dom [kon-duhm]

Also Known As

Rubbers, Prophylactics, Safes, Protection, and Jimmies

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