Background: Although public health programs invest heavily in the male latex condom, its efficacy in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease has been based primarily on in vitro and retrospective studies.
Methods: We combine the results from two randomized, controlled contraceptive efficacy trials that used commercial latex condoms brands (Ramses Sensitol, LifeStyles, Trojan-Enz) in the control arms. Combining data from the two studies, we obtained longitudinal data covering 3526 menstrual cycles contributed by approximately 800 couples who used latex condoms exclusively for up to six menstrual cycles. Both trials also collected 3715 detailed breakage and slippage reports from the first five study condom uses. The second trial also tested 243 postcoital vaginal samples collected after the first study condom use for the presence of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and spermatazoa.
Results: The combined clinical breakage rate for the first five condom uses was 0.4% for the three latex brands and the combined clinical slippage rate was 1.1%. The combined six-cycle typical-use pregnancy rate for the latex condoms was 7.0% (95% confidence interval 5.0-9.0). The combined six-cycle consistent-use pregnancy rate was 1.0% (95% confidence interval 0.0-2.1). PSA was detected in only 1.2% of postcoital vaginal samples collected after the first use of an intact study condom. There were no differences in performance or efficacy among the three latex brands tested.
Conclusions: The male latex condoms rarely broke or slipped off during intercourse and provided high contraceptive efficacy, especially when used consistently. Risk of semen leakage from intact condoms was very low.