Condom

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A condom is a device, usually made of latex, that covers a man's penis during sexual intercourse to avoid pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis and AIDS.

As a method of contraception, condoms have the advantage of being relatively reliable, especially when used in combination with spermicides, and of offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases as well. Their disadvantage is that some people find them unpleasant, especially because they eliminate skin contact and reduce sensitivity, and that putting them on can interrupt lovemaking. Most failures are due to misuse.

Condoms made from natural materials (such as those labelled "lambskin", made from lamb intestines) are not as effective at preventing disease. A few companies are also making condoms from polyethylene and polyurethane, which are expected to be as effective as latex but which have not had as much testing. The alternate materials are useful for those who have allergies to latex.

Recently "female condoms" have become available. They are larger than male condoms and have stiffened ring-shaped opening, and are designed to be inserted into the vagina.