The information below relates to external condoms, often called the ‘male’ condom, or just ‘a condom’. For detailed information about other types of barrier protection like the internal (‘female’) condom, and dental dams, see Barrier Protection.
The male condom is a thin pouch made of latex or polyurethane. It is placed over an erect (hard) penis or sex toy before having sex.
Condoms are one of the most popular forms of contraception and they are available in different sizes, shapes, colours and textures. They are also available in different materials for those with allergies or sensitive skin.
The condom works by catching ejaculate (cum) as it is released and stopping it from entering the vagina or anus.
They also prevent partners from sharing other bodily fluids such as vaginal fluids and blood that can transmit infection.
If used correctly, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use – given mistakes can happen like incorrect use or breakages – this can reduce to 88% effective.
- Protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reduces the risk of unplanned pregnancy
- Low cost
- Easy to use
- Little or no side effects
- Can be bought without a prescription (script)
- Available in different sizes
- Can be used on demand
- Not affected by other medications
- Hormone free
- Can easily be carried with you
- Can interrupt sex while you put it on
- Can tear or come off during sex if not used properly
- Some people are allergic to latex condoms
- Can occasionally lead to irritation of the vagina, penis or anus
Condoms might not work if they are:
- used incorrectly
- used with an oil-based lubricant
- past their use by date
- used at the same time as certain vaginal medications
- the wrong size for the penis
- torn when opening the packet
- kept in hot places for a long time (such as a car glove box in summer).
Condoms should be used every single time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Each condom can only be used once, so it’s a good idea to carry a few.
- Always check the expiry date before use.
- Squeeze the tip of the condom to remove any air, then roll it down on the erect penis/sex toy as far as it will go.
- To avoid pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections, put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina or anus.
- Once used, withdraw the penis before it softens and hold the condom against the base of the penis to ensure it does not slip off and to prevent any sperm from escaping.
- Use one and then throw the condom into a bin (not down the toilet).
You can use condoms with water or silicone-based lubricants (lube). Lube is a jelly or liquid-like material. Do not use oil-based lube or vaseline with condoms as it can cause them to break or slip off.
Condoms and lube are available free from Family Planning Tasmania clinics. They are also available from supermarkets, pharmacies, chemists and petrol stations. There is no minimum age to buy condoms.
If you want to know more about contraception and STI prevention, you can speak with one of our friendly doctors. Click here to find your closest clinic and make an appointment.
You may find these downloads helpful:
How to use a condom
How effective is my contraception (efficacy)?
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Male condom 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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