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Fact Sheet

Condoms

6

Why is it a good idea to use a condom during sex?

Condoms are the only form of contraceptive that protects you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is a good idea to use one when you’re having sex. Using a condom with a water-based lubricant every time you have sex helps lower your risk of:

  • Becoming pregnant;
  • Getting your partner pregnant; or
  • Contracting an STI, including HIV/AIDS.

Using water-based lubricants, like K-Y Jelly, each time you use a condom reduces the risk of breaking the condom. Avoid oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), massage oil or other body lotions because these can cause the condom to break.

When choosing a condom, you can use either a male or female condom.

Male condoms

The male condom is a thin latex sheath that is worn on an erect or stiff penis. The condom collects the sperm and stops it from entering the vagina and uterus.

How well do male condoms work?

Male condoms, when used correctly, can be 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. They can also be very effective in preventing the contraction of STIs. To make sure you are using one correctly, you should:

  • Check the “use by” date;
  • Use a new condom every time you have sex;
  • Make sure you are putting it on and taking it off the right way;
  • When putting the condom on, leave a small space at the tip to collect the sperm and help prevent breakage.

Side effects

There should be no side effects when you use a male condom, unless you are allergic to latex rubber or the lubricant. This isn’t common, but if you do have an allergic reaction, you might be able to use a non-latex condom.

Advantages and disadvantages of male condoms

Like any other type of contraceptive, male condoms have advantages and disadvantages. Before having sex, you might want to think about what these factors mean for you. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Condoms decrease the risk of pregnancy and STIs including HIV/AIDS.
  • Condoms are easy to find. They’re in almost every drug or grocery store, and you don’t need a doctor to get them.
  • They’re inexpensive.

One disadvantage of using a condom is that the latex is perishable, which means it needs to be kept in a cool place and used before the expiration date. Male condoms can also sometimes break, especially if they’re used with an oil-based lubricant like massage oil or Vaseline. It’s best to use male condoms with water-based lubricants like K-Y Jelly.

Where do you buy male condoms?

You can usually get male condoms and water-based lubricant at a variety of places, including:

  • Supermarkets;
  • Drug stores;
  • Clinics;
  • Sexual health centers like Planned Parenthood.

Female condoms

Female condoms are inserted into the vagina, and also collect the sperm and stop it from entering the vagina and uterus. Female condoms are made of non-latex polyurethane and are lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant. Oil-based lubricants can also be used with female condoms.

How well do female condoms work?

Like male condoms, female condoms are also effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs if they are used properly. When used correctly, female condoms are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

It’s a good idea to read the instructions on the condom packet before you use one. This will show you how to put the female condom into the vagina. Female condoms should also only be used once, and should not be used at the same time as male condoms, because it can cause at least one of the condoms to tear or move out of place and become ineffective.

Side effects

The only side effect of using a female condom might be an allergic reaction to the polyurethane or the lubricant, but this is uncommon. Female condoms might also cause some irritation. If you are worried about an allergy, contact your medical doctor or clinic.

Advantages and disadvantages of female condoms

Here are some advantages of female condoms: 

  • A female condom can be put in before sex and does not need to be removed immediately after sex.
  • It will reduce the risk of pregnancy and STIs.
  • You don’t need a doctor to buy them.

Some disadvantages of female condoms include:

  • Cost—female condoms are usually more expensive than male condoms;
  • Availability—some stores don’t carry female condoms, so they might be difficult to find;
  • Use—female condoms might be more difficult to use; make sure you know your body and are comfortable with it before using a female condom.

Where do you get them?

You can pick up female condoms from local health care clinics and Planned Parenthood centers, as well as some drug stores and supermarkets. You can ask your doctor for more information. For more information on condoms and other birth control methods as well as free reminders, check out Bedsider.org.

Statistics in this fact sheet were provided by:

The Mayo Clinic, “Condoms: STD protection plus effective birth control.”

Family Health International, “The Female Condom.”

Where to Next?

Comments

Responses

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    musiclover0912

    I am 17 and I just had sex last night with my boyfriend. I have a very low tolerance for pain and i asked him to go kinda easy on me. So, it hurt ALOT. i asked him to stop because it hurt so bad. is it supposed to hurt like that? Also, when i got home, i was bleeding and there was skin coming out. does this mean that he broke the whatever you call it (lol. don’t know what its called) and i lost my virginity?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It’s possible to have some pain your first time.  If the pain continues, seeing a doctor or visiting a clinic would be a good idea.  It’s normal to see some blood after the first time, as well.  You can read more about losing your virginity here:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/losing-your-virginity

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    LoneWolf36

    Hi,I’m 21 my fiance & I always use condoms but recently we decided to try KY lubricant & it made the condom slip off which has never happened before. Is that normal with using lubricant?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It’s good that you’re using condoms and doing your best to be safe!  It’s probably best to only use the lube on the outside of the condom, and only use a little bit.  A little goes a long way!  Also, you might want to consider whether or not the condom itself is the right fit for your partner.  Different brands have a different fit, and another one might work better for him.

      Good luck, and stay safe!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    jray

    hi, im 15 years old and i recently lost my virginity last Thursday. when i was having sex we did use a condom but when he first pt it in me there was a pop…we just kept going because i didn’t think anything about it and i don’t even think he heard it, what im trying to say here is that im not sure if it was my cherry(because i didnt bleed…which is not abnormal)or if the condom broke….my problem here is that my dad is a single parent and i dont know how to talk to him because he doesnt evn think ive had my first kiss….what should i do

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Hi jray. It’s hard to say what the pop-sound might have been. Are you concerned about pregnancy or STDs? You could have yourself tested. You can buy a home pregnancy test or visit your doctor or local Planned Parenthood clinic. If you’re not able to talk to your dad, consider talking to another trusted adult, perhaps another family member, a teacher or school counselor. Best of luck!

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