Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0



A condom, also called a rubber, is a thin, disposable covering, usually made of strong rubber or latex, that fits snugly over an erect penis. It acts as a barrier that stops sperm from entering the vagina. Condoms are used to protect both partners from sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS) and to prevent pregnancy. They are the second most widely used method of birth control in the U.S. today. (Birth control pills are the most widely used method.)


Follow these instructions when you use a condom for birth control:

  1. Use only latex condoms. Condoms made of natural skin may allow some viruses to pass through (such as the AIDS virus or hepatitis virus).

  2. Unroll a fresh condom (while pinching its reservoir tip) over the erect penis before any sexual contact.

  3. Leave the small end (reservoir) loose at the tip of the condom. At the time of ejaculation, the semen that comes out of the penis is caught in the end of the condom. This stops the semen from going into the vagina.

  4. Remove the penis from the vagina soon after ejaculation. The condom could easily slip off as the erection lessens. If the condom slips off, sperm might escape into the vagina. Before the penis is pulled out of the vagina, hold the rim of the condom firmly to prevent the condom from coming off in the vagina and spilling the semen.

  5. Use a new condom each time you have sexual contact. This is very important.


  1. Advantages
    • Condoms are 90 percent reliable in preventing pregnancy. When used with a vaginal spermicide (a cream, foam, or gel), their effectiveness increases to 95 percent. Spermicidal condoms (Ramses Extra) are available; these have the spermicide included with the condom.
    • Condoms are the best contraceptive available that also helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
    • Condoms are a relatively inexpensive form of birth control.
    • Condoms are widely available to anyone. They can be bought without a prescription at your local drug or grocery store.
    • Condoms and vaginal spermicides used together are the best nonprescription form of birth control available today.

  2. Disadvantages

    A condom must be put on the penis BEFORE any genital contact. If both you and your partner are not able to exercise this willpower EVERY time, this is not a good form of birth control for you. Even if you forget just one time, you could get pregnant.


Condoms are the only contraceptive that allows the male partner responsibility for birth control instead of the female partner.

Never assume your partner is using some form of birth control; if you don't know, ask her. If she isn't using birth control, use a condom. Even if she is using birth control, condoms are the only method that provides good protection against infections. Use a condom to protect against disease even if your partner is using another method of birth control.

The best relationships are based on good communication. If you and your partner haven't spoken seriously yet about your relationship, now is the perfect time to start. Making babies is easy, but raising them is one of life's most difficult challenges. Think about it.


  • If you have any questions or concerns.

Written by David W. Kaplan, M.D., and the staff of the Adolescent Medicine Center, The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems