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Barrier Protection – condoms and dams for all genders

Barrier protection is a type of contraception which includes condoms. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protects you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as pregnancy. You have to use a new condom every time you have sex.

Condoms are most effective for preventing STIs that are transmitted through body fluids. These include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B and HIV. Condoms provide less protection against STIs that are transmitted through skin-to skin touching (herpes and genital warts). 

There are three main types of barrier protection, but when people talk about condoms they usually mean the external condom (male condom). There is also an internal condom, sometimes called the ‘female condom’. The dental/rubber dam is a form of barrier protection, but it isn’t a condom and won’t protect you against unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

Different types of barrier protection are better for different purposes: 

  • An external condom can be used on a penis or a sex toy, for oral, vaginal or anal sex. 
  • An internal condom can be used for vaginal or anal sex. 
  • A dam can be used for vaginal or anal oral sex (cunnilingus or analingus).

Find out more about barrier protection including how to use it, where to get it, and what to do if it breaks in these factsheets:

Barrier protection
Male condoms
How to use a condom
How effective is my contraceptive method (efficacy)?
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Diaphragm factsheet
Contraceptive choices overview

This content is provided for general information and education purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not to be relied on in substitution for specific advice from a medical professional and Family Planning Tasmania does not accept responsibility for such use. Family Planning Tasmania has taken every effort to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, however information and knowledge is subject to change. Family Planning Tasmania advises that you always consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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