Contraception – Male condom

The main purpose of contraception (or birth control) is to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. You should know and understand the different types of methods available to you, the risks and benefits of each, and any possible side effects, so that both you and your partner can able to make an informed choice. Contraception can be broadly divided into:

  1. Temporary or permanent methods – permanent birth control is accomplished through sterilization (tying or removal of the fallopian tubes) or hysterectomy (removal of womb / uterus). The rest of the methods are classified as temporary or reversible.
  2. Short term or long-term methods – short term methods are condoms and oral pills. Long term methods are injectables, intrauterine device and hormonal implants.

The condom is a sheath that looks like a small, elongated balloon and is usually made of thin latex rubber, polyurethane or natural membranes. The man wears this sheath over the erect penis during intercourse. The sheath will prevent the sperm from being deposited in the vagina following ejaculation. The condom may also be effective in preventing spread of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts etc. It is the only form of temporary birth control available for men.

Advantages

  • Generally effective for contraceptive use (88-98%), provided it is use in a proper and consistent way.
  • It is readily available, inexpensive, and easy to use. Women can buy and carry condoms.
  • No medical consultation is required to start using it. It can be purchase easily and widely available.
  • It provides good protection against some STIs.
  • There are no systemic side effects from condom use.
  • Since the condom prevent the deposition of semen in the vagina, the woman will have less leaking (discharge) following intercourse.

Disadvantages

  • There is a need for the condom to be available and the extra time and effort required to put in on prior to intercourse. This may decrease the spontaneity of sex for some couples.
  • It may lessen the women or male’s sensation since the penis does not touch the vaginal walls directly.
  • It may irritate the woman’s vagina due to the friction from the condom. The lubricant may or may not help in relieving it.
  • Some women or men can be allergic to the material used to manufacture the condom.
  • The condom may break or leak, resulting in unplanned pregnancy

General instructions for use

  • There are many brands of condoms and you should try to find the best fit for you. You should check the expiry date before using it. Be careful when opening the condom packet. You should not use teeth, sharp fingernails, scissors, or other sharp instruments to open it as these may damage the condom. Push the condom to one side and gently tear along the corner or edge. It should be easy to open the pack.
  • Once you remove the condom from the pack, check for defects such as holes, tears or if it feels unusual (stickiness), do not use it. Open another pack and repeat the steps above. You should not unroll the condom to check it because this could damage it and make it difficult to put it on.
    Use a new condom for every act of intercourse. Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any contact is made between the penis and any part of the partner’s body.
  • If using a spermicide, put some inside the condom tip.
  • The teat end should be pointing up and you should always pinch the tip enough to leave a small space for semen to collect when you start rolling the rim of the condom over the penis until the base. The pinching will make sure to eliminate any air in the tip to help keep the condom from breaking.
  • If you are using water-based lubricant, you may put more on the outside of the condom.
  • After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, hold the rim of the condom, and carefully withdraw the penis.
  • To remove the condom, gently pull it off the penis and make sure the semen does not spill out.
  • Dispose it in a proper way. Because condoms may cause problems in sewers, do not flush it down the toilet.
  • If the condom breaks, there is a chance you can become pregnant. You should consider taking emergency contraception or see your doctor immediately for advice. You should also get tested for STIs if you are not sure of your partner’s infective status.

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First visit to the gynaecologist – what you should know

Health screening as a person ages is especially important. It should be your top priority even if you are healthy. In women, this will include a visit to the gynaecologist’s clinic and will help in identifying if the woman has increased risks for developing a disease or already has the disease or condition that was not previously known about. Early identification of risks factors can help in counselling and instituting remedial or preventive measures to reduce that risk. This may in fact help to prevent the disease from occurring. Likewise, early detection of disease and starting treatment as soon as possible will results in a better outcome and lower the risks of complications. For example, many women with ovarian cancer do not have symptoms until it is too late. However, prompt diagnosis at an early stage of ovarian cancer will give excellent outcome with surgery alone and may not even need chemotherapy at all.
Many women feel nervous or even afraid to see the gynaecologist, especially if it is their first visit. Seeing a gynaecologist is just like seeing any other doctor in other specialities such as your dentist or general practitioner. They are there to help you and you should take this as an opportunity to seek their help in taking care of your health.

Read moreFirst visit to the gynaecologist – what you should know

Bone mineral density testing (BMD)

This test is done to measure the density of bones and this is able to predict the risk of fractures. Bone density decreases in both men and women with age, but in women, the decrease is more rapid and more severe following menopause when the ovaries stop producing the oestrogen hormone. BMD testing can show whether there is significant bone loss, resulting in low bone mass. This is a major cause of osteoporosis and of bone fractures (partic­ularly the hip, spine or forearm) in men and women over the age of 40.

Osteoporosis is a reduction in the amount of bone mass resulting in the loss of bone strength. This will predispose it to fracture. Osteopenia refers to a decrease in bone mineral density and is less severe form compared to osteoporosis. Eventually, it is likely to lead to osteoporosis if no treatment is given.

Read moreBone mineral density testing (BMD)

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (Vaginal yeast infection)

Vulvovaginal candidiasis is an infection of the vagina caused by a yeast-like fungus (usually Candida albicans). It is one of the commonest causes of vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina). An estimated 75 percent of all women will develop a yeast infection during their lifetime. Vaginal candidiasis infections are very common in pregnancy due to the increased levels of circulating oestrogen in the bloodstream.

CAUSES

The fungus Candida lives in small numbers in a healthy vagina, rectum and mouth without causing problems. When the vagina’s hormone and pH balance is disturbed, the organisms multiply and cause infections.

Read moreVulvovaginal candidiasis (Vaginal yeast infection)