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Male Condom

Quick Facts

  • Of 100 women whose partners use male condoms, about 18 may become pregnant.
Every time you have sex.STD protection.No office visit required.

What is the male condom?

A male condom is a thin film cover that is placed over the penis. Condoms prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from entering a woman’s body.

Condoms made from latex rubber are the most common type. For people who get skin irritation from latex, polyurethane condoms are a good choice.

Condoms are either lubricated or non-lubricated. You can also add a water-based lubricant to a condom to make sex more comfortable and, more important, to help prevent breakage. At your local pharmacy, ask which brands of lubricant are water-based. Avoid oil-based lubricants (for example, petroleum jelly, massage oil, body lotion) as they weaken condoms and may cause them to break.

Used correctly each time you have sex, latex and polyurethane condoms are a good option to prevent pregnancy and many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms made from natural or lambskin materials also protect against pregnancy, but they will not protect against some STDs.

How do I use it?

Condoms can be damaged by heat, so store them somewhere cool and dry. Do not store them in a wallet or in a car. Condoms have a limited shelf-life, and they will expire. Check the expiration date on the packaging to make sure the condom is still good.

  • Place on the erect penis before any sexual contact occurs.
  • Use water- or silicone-based lubricants to decrease risk of condom breakage.
  • Pull out of the vagina before the penis softens.
  • Hold base of condom snugly against the penis when pulling out.
  • Use condom once and then throw it away. NEVER reuse a condom.

How effective is it?

Of 100 women whose partners use male condoms, about 18 may become pregnant. Condoms are more effective at preventing pregnancy when they are used correctly every time you have sex.

Except for abstinence from all sexual contact, latex and polyurethane condoms are the best protection against STDs, including HIV. Lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs and HIV.

How do I get it?

You can buy condoms at many stores, including pharmacies, grocery, and discount stores. Health departments, clinics, and student health centers may offer free or low-cost condoms as well. You do not need a prescription or personal identification to buy them.

Advantages of the male condom

  • Male condoms do not require a prescription.
  • Anyone may buy them.
  • They are safe and easy to use.
  • They can be used for vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
  • Flavored condoms are available, which may improve the experience when using them for protection against STDs during oral sex.
  • Latex and polyurethane condoms offer protection against STDs, including HIV, as well as preventing pregnancy.

Drawbacks of the male condom

  • Male condoms must be used correctly and consistently to be beneficial.
  • You must use a new condom each time you have sex.
  • Condoms made from latex can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people.
  • Both partners must agree to use a condom.

Did You Know? (Condoms)

Did You Know?

Did you know?Condoms protect against STDs, but are most effective at preventing pregnancy when used with another birth control method, like birth control pills, patch, shot or an intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implant, or vaginal ring.

Learn about other birth control methods

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on May 5, 2019