What is it?
- Thin cover made of rubber or polyurethane that fits snugly over the penis during sex.
How does it work?
- It acts as a barrier between the penis and vagina so sperm cannot enter the vagina and reach the egg.
What’s great about it?
- Quite effective. Only 2 women in 100 will get pregnant in a year if they are used consistently and correctly. If they are not used properly more women will become pregnant (18 in 100).
- Anyone can buy them from a range of places – does not need a prescription.
- Does not contain hormones so no side-effects, and periods are not affected.
- Just use it when you have sex.
- Protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Different shapes, sizes, textures and colours of condom are available.
- Can help a man stay hard for longer and come less quickly.
What’s not so great about it?
- It is less effective than most methods but better than using nothing.
- Putting it on can interrupt sex.
- Often fails because: slips off; splits/breaks; wrong size or shape; too much or too little lubricant used; oil based lubricants used which damage it; not used properly e.g. put on after penis and vagina have already come into contact, not withdrawn
immediately after ejaculation.
- Man needs to withdraw as soon as he has ejaculated and before the penis goes soft so that semen does not spill into the vagina.
- Some people are sensitive to the latex – if so use polyurethane makes of condom.
- Some men find it difficult maintaining an erection whilst using them.
Where can I get it?
- Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.
- Buy them at pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines and garages.