You’d prefer a barrier method for preventing pregnancy and you also want to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases, in which case condoms make the most sense. Your next decision comes down to whether you want to use female (internal) condoms or male condoms.
At Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Fernando Otero and the team are here to help with all of your family planning and reproductive health needs. As part of these efforts, we believe that education is key, which is why we’re taking a closer look at the two different styles of condoms.
Protecting against unplanned pregnancy
Both female and male condoms prevent pregnancy by providing a barrier between sperm and eggs. This barrier comes in the form of nitrile, which is a latex-free, thin material that’s designed to interfere as little as possible with the sexual experience while also providing pregnancy protection.
Male condoms are placed over the man’s penis while female condoms are placed inside the vagina to form a pocket of protection that captures sperm, preventing it from reaching and fertilizing your eggs.
When it comes to preventing pregnancy, male condoms offer 98% protection when used correctly, while female condoms offer 95% protection.
Unfortunately, mistakes are often made with these birth control methods and they aren’t used correctly, which means that their protection rates are actually 85% for male condoms and 79% for female condoms.
This is why it’s important to fully understand how to best use condoms — either male or female — in order to receive optimal protection against pregnancy.
Protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Of all the available birth control options, condoms are the only ones that also protect against STDs (outside of abstinence).
While we don’t have any numbers when it comes to this protection, both female and male condoms provide critical barriers that go a long way toward preventing infection.
Here again, though, it’s important that these condoms are used correctly in order to achieve this STD protection, and they should be used for any type of intercourse.
There may be some advantages in STD protection with female condoms as they cover a wider area, covering much of your external genitalia, namely your labia.
Another advantage of female condoms over male condoms when it comes to avoiding both pregnancy and STDs is that you have better control over the protection. Put another way, you’re not relying on someone else to use the condom correctly.
If you have more questions about whether you should use female or male condoms or how to use these birth control methods effectively, contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to schedule an appointment.