Researchers say condoms have been around for at least 400 years. Since the 19th century, they have been one of the more popular methods of contraception around the world.
When used correctly, condoms can prevent pregnancy by blocking the passage of semen into the vaginal canal. They can also prevent the exchange of blood, semen, and vaginal secretions, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
There are many different types of condoms on the market. They are made from different materials such as latex, polyurethane, lambskin and polyisoprene.
Latex condoms are the most widely available and the least expensive. They come in a variety of sizes, colors, textures, shapes, and even flavors. They are typically recommended for protection against STDs and pregnancy. There are some drawbacks to latex condoms. They get damaged when used with oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly and lotions. Contact with oil makes latex condoms lose elasticity and are more likely to break or slip off.
For people who are allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are an option. Some feel polyurethane conducts heat better than latex. Other benefits are that this material can be used with oil-based lubricants, has less rigid storage requirements, a longer shelf life and does not have an odor. Polyurethane condoms are, however, more expensive than latex condoms.
“Natural" condoms are another type available. Lambskin condoms are made from the oldest material on the market: the intestinal membrane of a lamb. Lambskin is less allergenic then latex and supposedly has a more natural feel than both latex and polyurethane.
If disease prevention is a priority, than lambskin condoms are not for you. The pores in the material make them ineffective in keeping out STDs, but they do protect against pregnancy. Lambskin is also significantly more expensive than other types of condoms.
Polyisoprene condoms are the newest condom option on the market. Polyisoprene is a synthetic version of natural rubber latex. While more expensive, they are a good idea for people allergic to latex.