There are two types of condoms. Firstly, there are external condoms, which are slipped over the erect penis. These are called male condoms, preservatives or overcovers. Secondly, since the 1980s there have also been condoms for women, which are worn inside the vagina and are called femidoms. Both types of condom can protect against STIs and conception, provided they are used correctly during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Condoms are therefore a barrier method of contraception because they prevent sperm from meeting the egg. A condom forms an impenetrable layer for the sperm, and so pregnancy is prevented. Condoms are also the only contraceptive method that can simultaneously prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Nor can bacteria and viruses penetrate the barrier, which makes condoms the most important element of safe sex. Inside their packaging, condoms are kept moist with a special liquid that kills sperm.

Male condoms, by the way, have been around for many centuries. First, they were made from sheep intestines or goat bladders. Especially for protection against syphilis, such animal products were already widespread around 1550. Then, in 1855, the first condoms were made from vulcanized rubber. It had a thin tip at the top, called a reservoir, which held the ejaculated sperm. The first condoms were also used several times, but soon the condom evolved to be used only once. In the last 100 years, the condom conquered the whole world and got new colours, sizes, and tastes. The standard size is 49-55 millimetres, but there are also special sizes and different strengths. Furthermore, condoms can be purchased with nubs or without, grooved or smooth. The grooves and nubs on the condom are supposed to make sex feel better.

The protection offered by a condom depends on how it is used. If it is used perfectly, the protection is very high, but there are some sources of error that can greatly reduce the protection. For example, the condom is often applied too late, i.e., after there has already been physical contact with the penis. The problem with this is that sperm or germs can already be on the penis before ejaculation. Consequently, correct use should be explained and practised again and again. It is also important to store condoms correctly, as too much heat or frost can make the latex porous. Oil and Vaseline can also damage condoms and make them permeable, so only special lubricants should be used when having sex with condoms. These often have an additional spermicidal effect. Condoms are available in supermarkets, drugstores and pharmacies. In many toilets in clubs and at railway stations etc., there are also condom vending machines where you can get condoms 24 hours a day.

Statistically, 380 condoms are used every second worldwide.

In the stretch test, condoms are inflated to a volume of 18 litres to check their quality. The German word of the year in 1987 was Kondom. Since 2017, there has been a condom requirement for sex with prostitutes in Germany. Condoms are compulsory when shooting porn films in France and Los Angeles.

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