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A contraceptive sheath that fits over the erect penis and prevents ejaculated semen from reaching the uterus and fertilizing the ovum. Thus, it is a barrier contraceptive. It is also a protective measure against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms have a long history dating back to the Romans. In the past they were fashioned from sheep's intestines, canvas, oilskin, and various other materials, few of which could have helped to enhance the pleasure of sexual congress and many of which were not very effective. Today condoms are made of fine latex or plastic, which is an effective barrier to spermatozoa and the pathogens responsible for most sexually transmitted diseases yet does not excessively deaden the senses; some are textured and even flavored. See also female condom.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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