Condoms are a barrier method of contraception. Essentially, they are a stretchy bag that is made from very thin materials such as latex. Condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and also prevent pregnancy. There are two types of condoms: male condoms, worn on the penis; and female condoms, which are worn inside the vagina.
How effective are they?
When used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. They are usually made of very thin latex (rubber) and are designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg. Non-latex condoms are available if you are allergic to latex.
Condoms also protect against STIs if used correctly during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It is really important that a condom is in place before any contact of the penis in these types of sex.
If you think sperm has entered the vagina, you may need emergency contraception. You can use emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.
How to use a condom
- Check the condom is not expired (the date is marked on the outside of the packet)
- Take the condom out of the packet, being careful not to tear it with jewellery or fingernails Do not open the packet with your teeth!
- There is a small, sticky out bit on the end of the condom – this is called a teat or a reservoir – squeeze the air out of it with a thumb and forefinger and place the condom over the tip of the erect penis
- Gently roll the condom down to the base of the penis
- If the condom won’t roll down, you may be holding it the wrong way round. If this happens, it may have sperm on it, so throw it away and try again with a new one
- After sex, withdraw the penis while it’s still erect – hold the condom on at the base of the penis while you do this, to prevent it coming off and semen leaking out
- Remove the condom from the penis, wrap it in toilet paper and put it in a bin, not down the toilet! You shouldn’t flush a condom. You can tie up the end at this point to stop semen leaking out
- Use a new condom every time you have sex!
Who can use condoms?
Most people can use condoms. Occasionally some men and women might be allergic to latex condoms. If this is a problem, polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms are also available.
Some men may find that they have trouble maintaining an erection when wearing a condom or that the condom slips off when they are having sex. Getting the right condom for you can make a massive difference so it’s worth trying out a range of condoms.
Most condoms come ready lubricated to make them easier to use, but you may also like to use additional lubricant (lube). This is particularly advised for anal sex to reduce the chance of the condom splitting. It is really important that you use the right kind of lubricant or it can damage the condom and reduce its effectiveness.
Ideally, use a water based lubricant that is specifically designed for the job. Don’t use anything oil based – such as massage lotion, body oil or Vaseline – because they can damage the condom and make it more likely to split. You can get water based lubricant from supermarkets, pharmacies, online or from DPPA.
Everyone’s different so please come in and have a chat.
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