Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are the only form of protection that can help stop the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, and prevent pregnancy. There are two types of condoms: male and female.
A man should wear a condom any time his penis has contact with the body of another person if there is even the slightest risk that either person has a sexually transmitted disease. Men frequently become infected with STDs when receiving oral sex, so a condom should be worn then, too. The condom should be put on before there is any contact and should be removed and thrown away promptly after the man has ejaculated.
Lubricants that contain oil -- such as Vaseline, baby oils, and vegetable oils -- should not be used with latex condoms since they weaken the rubber.
The female condom is a lubricated polyurethane (plastic) tube that has a flexible ring at each end. One end of the tube is closed. Before sexual activity begins, the woman inserts the condom into her vagina so that the closed end of the tube covers the cervix, and the other end slightly covers the labia (lips on the outside of the vagina). The condom blocks sperm from entering the womb. Female condoms should be discarded after one use.
If you have sex — oral, anal or vaginal intercourse and genital touching — you can get an STD, also called a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Straight or gay, married or single, you're vulnerable to STIs and STI symptoms. Thinking or hoping your partner doesn't have an STI is no protection — you need to know for sure. And although condoms are highly effective for reducing transmission of some STDs, no method is foolproof.
If untreated, STIs can increase your risk of acquiring another STI such as HIV. This happens because an STI can stimulate an immune response in the genital area or cause sores, either of which might raise the risk of HIV transmission. Some untreated STIs can also lead to infertility.
Despite modern methods of family planning, and widespread information about how to use it, unplanned pregnancy is one of the most common medical problems faced by sexually active women under 45.