The male condom (“rubber” or “prophylactic”) is placed on an erect penis prior to vagi­nal penetration. Condoms must be put on before there is any vaginal contact by the pe­nis because sperm may be present in the urethra. After being rolled onto the penis, a half-inch empty space is left at the tip of the condom to allow room for the ejaculatory fluid (see photo on page 411). To prevent tearing the condom, the vagina should be well lubricated. Although some condoms come prelubricated, if extra lubrication is needed, water, contraceptive jelly or cream, or K-Y jelly should be used. Hand or body lotion, pe­troleum jelly (e. g., Vaseline), baby oil, massage oil, or vegetable oil should never be used, as they may damage the latex and cause the condom to break (because polyurethane condoms are nonlatex, they are not damaged by these products).

To avoid the possibility of semen leaking out of the condom, withdrawal must take place immediately after ejaculation, while the penis is still erect, and the con­dom should be grasped firmly at the base to prevent its slipping off into the vagina during withdrawal. Condom users should always remember to check expiration dates, pull back the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis before putting a condom on, pinch the reservoir tip to leave a half-inch space in the condom for ejaculation, and use only water-based lubricants.

How They WorkQuestion: Do some men have problems maintaining an erection when they use a condom?

Some men do report that they have more difficulties maintaining an erection when they use a latex condom. Some couples complain that wearing a condom is like "taking a shower with a raincoat on," or that it decreases sensitivity during sexual intercourse. For men, adding two or three drops of a lubricant, such as K-Y jelly, into the condom before rolling it on to the penis can improve penile sensitivity. Many women also report that putting a small amount of a lubricant into their vagina prior to intercourse helps increase their pleasure and sensitivity while using a condom. Lubricated condoms may help maintain erections by increasing sensitivity, as will polyurethane and lambskin condoms. It’s also important to note that men who experience problems with premature ejaculation often find that con­doms can help maintain erections.

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