Condoms: All Guides

Condoms: Talking With Your Partner

male condom

Having a conversation about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy should come way before sex, but sometimes it’s not discussed because one or both partners feel too embarrassed to bring it up. However, if you’re thinking about having sex (or are already having sex) with a partner, you should be able to talk to them about anything.

My partner thinks I don’t trust them because I want to use condoms. What can I tell them?

You can reassure your partner that it’s not that you don’t trust them, but that you would feel a lot safer and less stressed if you used a condom every time you have sex. You can let them know that your health care provider wants you (and your partner) to protect yourselves from any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Often STIs may not initially cause symptoms so people may not even know that they have one either.. Aside from protection from STIs, condoms can also prevent unwanted pregnancy if you are at risk. Even if you take oral contraceptives, it’s always better to use 2 methods to prevent pregnancy. You can talk about how you don’t want to get pregnant and would rather not stress about the possibility of getting pregnant after having sex or if your period is late.

My partner said that we don’t need to use condoms because I’m using birth control.

If you’re using birth control, you can tell your partner that although they’re usually 91-99% effective, birth control is not 100% effective and you don’t want to be one of the 1-9% that gets pregnant while on birth control.

What if I feel uncomfortable talking about condom use?

Talking about condoms may seem a little uncomfortable at first, especially if you don’t know how your partner will react. However, healthy relationships are based on trust and communication, so you should be able to talk about how you feel.

Having a face to face talk about using condoms shouldn’t be a big deal, but if you feel that it would be easier to chat about it over the phone or via text message, do that instead. Any communication is better than none at all.

What if I’m afraid of my partner’s reaction when I tell them I want to use condoms?

In healthy relationships, when partners have problems, they discuss them and work together to find a solution. If you’re afraid of how your partner might react, it might be a sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship and/or that you should think about if you feel comfortable having sex with your .

What if I already know my partner doesn’t want to use condoms?

Sexual relationships involve two people, so why should your partner get to make the decision regarding condom use? Even if you already know that your partner doesn’t want to use condoms, you need to have a conversation about it. Be honest and state your concerns and the reasons you want to use condoms. You can also say “No glove, no love” or explain that if they want to have sex with you they will respect your decision to use protection.

How can I respond to my partner’s excuses?

  • If they says: “If you love me, you’d let me have sex with you without a condom.”
    You can: Make it clear to them that this isn’t a valid reason. For instance, you could have used the same line and said “If you love me, you’d use a condom,” but you didn’t. You came up with mature, valid reasons regarding your health and wellbeing.
  • If they says: “Stopping to put on a condom will ruin the mood.”
    You can:Tell them that this doesn’t have to be true. If you keep condoms nearby and/or come up with a fun way of putting them on, it can actually add to the mood instead of taking away from it.
  • If they says: “My penis is too big for condoms.”(Some guys actually say this, but it’s not true.)
    You can: Tell him that condoms stretch to accommodate different sizes. If he’s putting the condom on correctly and it really is too tight, there are brands of condoms that come in larger sizes. You can even offer to buy a pack for him or buy a few different types to try!

What if my partner still says no to condoms?

If your partner still says no to using condoms after you’ve made it clear that it’s very important to you, you have an important decision to make. Ask yourself if you’re willing to take the risks that unprotected sex involves, and think long and hard about whether you really want to be with someone who doesn’t respect what is really important to you.

Talking to your partner about condoms may seem awkward at first, but it’s too important not to have the conversation! Try your best to get past your anxiety and talk to your partner, because you both need to be protected against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy if this is a possibility. If your partner really cares about you, they won’t have a problem with agreeing to use condoms every time you have sex.

Condoms: Male Condoms

Key Facts
  • External (male) condoms are the best method to decrease the chance of getting STIs.
  • To prevent pregnancy, use condoms with another form of contraception.
  • Only use water-based lubricants with condoms.

male condom
Male condom

The external (male) condom is a sheath (covering) worn over the penis during sexual activity. It prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier, preventing semen from entering the vagina so the sperm can’t reach a female’s “egg”. Condoms also decrease the chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) by acting as a barrier, preventing infections (bacteria and viruses) from passing from one partner to another. Using condoms also allows to be active in preventing pregnancy.

Of note, we recognize that people of all genders get pregnant and that people of all genders wear male/external condoms. In this guide, we use the term “female” to describe people who are born with uteruses/can get pregnant and “male” to describe people who have penises.

Are there different kinds of condoms?

Yes; condoms come in different sizes, styles, and shapes. Condoms can be made out of latex, polyurethane, or “lambskin” (also called natural). Condoms may be lubricated or unlubricated. Some condoms used to contain spermicides (chemicals to kill sperm), but most don’t. It’s best to use condoms without spermicide.

Even though guys are the ones who wear external (male) condoms, anyone can always keep some on hand if they’re in a sexual relationship. Then you’ll have contraception available, and you can always practice safe sex.

How can I talk with my partner about condoms?

Although it might be difficult or awkward at first, talking with your partner about condoms will greatly increase the chance that you’ll use a condom correctly each and every time you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral). Chances are, your partner has some of the same questions about condoms that are going through your head, so talking about them will make you both feel more comfortable. Don’t let embarrassment put you in a risky situation–your health is more important. If you’re not comfortable talking about condoms with your partner, you may not be ready to have sex with them.

Where can I get condoms?

Condoms can be bought at drug stores, many supermarkets, or online. They’re very cheap (about $.50 – $2.50 each – and cheaper when you buy a lot at a time). You may also be able to get them for free at a school health center, doctor’s office, or a family planning clinic (such as Planned Parenthood).

Does it matter which type of condom I use?

Yes. The best type of condom to use is one made out of latex. It provides the best protection against both pregnancy and STIs. However, if either you or your partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are still a good option. They provide just about the same protection against pregnancy and also give some protection against STIs, although they break and slip more often than latex condoms. Lambskin condoms are effective against pregnancy, but not effective in the prevention of STIs. It’s up to you to choose whether to use lubricated or unlubricated condoms, although most teens prefer lubricated.

How effective is the external (male) condom against pregnancy?

If a woman has her male partner use a condom every time they have sexual intercourse and follow instructions every time, it’s 98% effective. This means that if 100 women have their partners use the male condom all the time and always use it perfectly, 2 women will become pregnant in a year.

The male condom is most effective against pregnancy when it’s used all the time and always used correctly. If it’s not used perfectly, it’s only 82% effective. This means that in real life, if 100 have their partners use an external condom, but they don’t use it perfectly every time, at least 18 women will become pregnant in a year.

When used all of the time and when used correctly, condoms are good at preventing pregnancy. Most condom failures happen because of improper use. Always make sure you have a prescription for Emergency Contraception (Plan B) or know where to buy it (over-the-counter) from a pharmacy.

How effective is the condom against STIs?

The answer to this question partly depends on which type of condom used and if the condom is used and removed correctly. Latex condoms provide excellent protection against most STIs. Polyurethane condoms also provide some protection against STIs, although more research studies are needed to know how protective they really are. Remember, lambskin condoms don’t protect against STIs. The pores are too large to protect against the small particles that cause some STIs.

The answer to this question also depends on which type of STI. Latex condoms protect against only certain types of STIs. STIs can be spread by sexual activity in a few different ways. They’re effective in lowering the risk of STIs that travel in bodily fluids (blood or semen), such as the HIV/AIDS virushepatitischlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Condoms are much less effective against STIs that are caused by organisms that live in sores on the genitals, such as syphilis. STIs such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV – also known as genital warts) that occur on the genital skin can get passed from one partner to another even if a condom is used.

Most importantly, the effectiveness of a condom against STIs depends on whether the condom is stored correctly and whether it’s used correctly all of the time.

Are there other ways to lower my chances of getting an STI?

Your best protection is to not have sex. If you make the decision to have sex, condoms are your best protection. You can also lessen your chance of getting an STI by having sex with only one person who doesn’t have an STI and who isn’t having sex with anyone else. It’s important to also talk to your partner about STI testing.

Where should I keep unused condoms?

Keep unused condoms in a dry, dark place at room temperature. Extreme heat or cold can weaken the material. Sunlight or humidity can also break down latex, causing condoms to break or tear more easily. Condoms shouldn’t be carried in a wallet or stored in a car glove compartment because the material will weaken and is more likely to break or tear.

How long are condoms good for?

Always check the date on the box. Some condoms are marked by the manufacture date (MFG = manufacture date). You can use these condoms for up to four years after the date of manufacture. Other condoms are marked EXP, which means expiration date. You shouldn’t use condoms any time after the expiration date. If you’re not sure how old the condom is, throw it away and use a new one. Never use condoms that are brittle, sticky, damaged, or an unusual color. Using out-of-date condoms is another reason for condom failure.

How do I use a condom?

Opening the wrapper: Be careful when opening a condom package so that you don’t tear or nick the latex with your teeth, nails, or rings. Don’t unroll the condom before putting it on the penis, because it can weaken the latex and make the condom difficult to use.

Once the condom is out of the wrapper: Gently press out air at the tip of the condom. Make sure to leave space at the tip (about one-half inch) to collect the semen, so it won’t leak out the side of the condom.

Using lube: You can use a water-based lubricant (such as glycerin or lubricating jelly) during intercourse to prevent condoms from breaking. If you put a drop of lubricant (such as KY-Jelly) inside the tip of the condom, you can increase both sensation and safety.

Never use an oil-based lubricant, since it will weaken the latex and make it break. Examples of oil-based lubricants include Crisco, lotion, Vaseline, or baby oil. Medications used to treat women’s yeast infections can also weaken condoms.

Putting the condom on: You can put a condom on for your partner, or they can put it on themselves. If you’re putting the condom on your partner, hold the tip of the condom between your thumb and forefinger against the head of the penis. Put the condom on when the penis is erect. If their penis is uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom. Unroll the condom over the entire length of the erect penis.

how to put on a condom

Taking the condom off: After a person has ejaculated, he should pull out while his penis is still hard, since the condom can easily slip off when the erection is lost. He should hold the condom at the base of his penis while withdrawing so semen doesn’t spill out. Then he should gently roll the condom toward the tip of his penis to take it off.

What should you do with a used condom?

You should wrap the used condom in a tissue and throw it out in the trash. Don’t flush it down the toilet, since it can clog plumbing. Condoms can’t be reused, even if your partner doesn’t ejaculate, so only use one condom each time you have sexual intercourse.

Remember: Use a new condom every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

What if the condom breaks or tears?

First of all, don’t panic – but do have the person withdraw his penis immediately. If you aren’t using another method of birth control such as the Pill, you should strongly consider taking Emergency Contraception to prevent pregnancy. If you can’t get in touch with your health care provider, you can text “HELPLINE” to 313131 or check online. If you think you might have been exposed to an STI, speak with your health care provider.

Other things to remember:

  • If the condom breaks but you want to continue having sexual intercourse, make sure that you use a new condom
  • It’s a good idea to know how to get Emergency Contraception (Plan B) before you need it
  • Try to figure out why the condom broke so that it won’t happen again

How often do condoms break?

Condoms hardly ever break if they’re stored and used correctly. Proper use depends on the skill and experience of the person using them.

When condoms break, it’s usually because:

  • Space for semen wasn’t left at the tip of the condom
  • The condoms are out-of-date
  • The condoms have been exposed to heat or sunlight
  • The condoms have been torn by teeth or fingernails

Also, using oil-based (rather than water-based) lubricants weakens latex, causing condoms to break. So if you store and use condoms properly, it’s very unlikely that your condom will break.

What if the condom comes off and I can’t remove it from my vagina?

First, don’t panic! This is completely up to you and your comfort level, but it’s possible for you to remove the condom at home. If you want to try to remove the condom at home, begin by washing your hands. Then choose a quiet, comfortable place to lay down. Once you are laying down, take a couple nice deep breathes (as you did before). Begin by taking one clean finger and inserting it you’re your vagina, feel around for the condom. If you are able to feel the condom, insert a second finger and take hold of it. Use the two fingers to help gently pull the condom towards the entrance of the vagina and out.

Now, if you are unable to feel the condom or you’re uncomfortable removing it at home, call your health care provider (HCP). It’s important to tell your provider what is going on so that they can schedule you an urgent appointment. The longer the condom is inside you, the higher the risk for infection

Can people be allergic to condoms?

Some people may have an allergic reaction to condoms, which can be due to spermicide or latex. If you think it might be due to the latex, you should try a polyurethane external (male) (or internal/female) condom. Make sure the condom doesn’t have spermicide on it.

Do I need to use other forms of contraception with the external (male) condom?

It’s a good idea to use two different types of contraception to increase protection against pregnancy. For example, you can use birth control pills and condoms. However, never use two condoms together – doing this causes friction, which increases the chances that the condom will break.

Condoms are the most effective form of protection against sexually transmitted infections. If used correctly 100% of the time, condoms may reduce your risk of becoming pregnant by 98%. Condoms are beneficial for all genders, so it is important to discuss condom use with your partner.



Condoms: Female Condom or Internal Condoms

Key Facts
  • Internal (female) condoms are approximately 79%effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
  • External (male)condoms are more effective than internal (female) condoms
  • DON’T use internal condoms with an external
  • Internal (female) condoms can be used for both vaginal and anal sex.


female condom
Female condom

The internal condom, also known as the “female condom,” is a lubricated sheath worn by the female inside of their vagina during sex. The FC2 is a type of internal condoms made of nitrile (a type of synthetic rubber). The FC2 is latex-free, so this is a good option if you or your partner has a latex allergy. The FC2 is pre-lubricated and is the only female condom that has been approved for vaginal sex by the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These condoms have been used by people, for vaginal sex and anal sex. There are other condoms sold outside of the United States that are made of natural rubber latex (Cupid®, l’Amour® and Jeitosa®).

The internal (female) condom acts as a barrier to sperm and many sexually transmitted infections by completely lining the vagina. The internal condom has a ring at each end. The inner ring, at the closed end of the sheath, lies inside the vagina. The outer ring, at the open end of the sheath, lies outside the vagina after the internal condom has been inserted. The internal condom provides protection against pregnancy and some protection against STIs.

Of note, we recognize that people of all genders get pregnant and use female/internal condoms. In this guide, we use the term “female” to describe people who are born with uteruses/can get pregnant and “male” to describe people who have penises.

Where can I get the internal (female) condom?

You can get the FC2 internal condom without a prescription in most pharmacies and grocery stores in the United States. You can also buy the FC2 online or ask for it at family planning centers. An FC2 condom costs between $2.00 and $4.00 each however, you can also buy them in multiple packs of three or more.

What if I need more lubrication?

The internal (female) condom is already lubricated when you buy it, but if you need more lubrication, you can use a vaginal lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, on the inside of the internal condom or on the penis.

How effective is the female (internal) condom?

If women use the internal (female) condom every time they have sexual intercourse and follow instructions every time, it’s 95% effective. This means that if 100 women use the internal condom all the time and always use it correctly, 5 women will become pregnant in a year.

Although it’s obvious that the internal condom is most effective against pregnancy when it is used all the time and always used correctly, perfect use hardly ever happens. If women use the internal condoms, but not perfectly, it’s 79% effective. This means that if 100 women use the internal condom, 21 or more women will become pregnant in a year

You can use the internal condom with other forms of birth control including the pill, patch, implant, and IUD, to further decrease chances of getting pregnant. It is important never to use the internal condom with an external condom as it increases risk of both breaking.

When wearing the internal condom in the vagina, it protects against HIV and other STDs just as effectively as the external (male) condom. The internal condom is more effective at protecting against STIs than the diaphragm (another barrier method).

How do you use the internal (female) condom?

You can plan ahead and insert the internal (female) condom before foreplay and penetration, so you don’t have to stop when you’re ready to have sex.

Wash your hands first and find a comfortable position, perhaps squatting with knees apart or lying down with legs bent and knees apart. Hold the internal condom so that the open end is hanging down. You may put lubricant on the outside of the closed side of the condom to help insert it smoothly. Squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger.

Insert the inner ring and pouch inside of your vaginal opening. With your index finger, push the inner ring with the pouch way up into your vagina, so that the inner ring is up past your pubic bone. You can feel your pubic bone by curving your finger towards your front when it is a couple of inches inside of your vagina. Be sure to go slowly and be patient. Make sure the internal condom is not twisted at all. The outside ring of the female condom should lie against the outer lips of your vagina. About one inch of it should be outside of your body.

You need to guide the male’s penis into the internal condom so that it doesn’t enter the vagina during sex. Once the penis enters the internal condom inside your vagina, the vagina will expand and the condom will fit better.

After intercourse, the male does not need to withdraw immediately. To remove the internal condom after intercourse, squeeze and twist the outer ring gently to keep the sperm inside the pouch. Pull the internal condom out gently and throw it away in a waste container. Don’t flush it, and don’t reuse it!

To use the internal condom for anal sex, you may want to remove the inner ring of the condom before inserting it into your anus with your finger. The outer ring should be left outside of your body. It is OK to leave in the inner ring for insertion

What if the internal (female) condom slips out of place during intercourse?

Stop intercourse immediately! Take the internal condom out carefully, so that the sperm stay inside the pouch. Use a new internal condom if you continue having sexual intercourse. Add extra lubricant to the opening of the pouch or on the penis and then insert the new internal condom. Contact your health care provider and discuss emergency contraception.

Are there any complaints about the internal (female) condom?

Some people complain that the internal (female) condom can bother the skin of the genitals (adding more lubricant can help with this), that it limits feeling during intercourse, and that the penis can slip out of the condom during sex.

On the other hand, some men say the internal condom is more comfortable because it isn’t as tight on their penis as external (male) condom. Additionally the inner ring may stimulate the penis and the outer ring can stimulate the clitoris, increasing pleasure during sex. Some people also like that they can play an active role in protecting themselves and their partners by using the internal (female) condom during sex.

Can I use a male condom with the internal (female) condom?

No. You should never use an external (male) condom at the same time that you are using an internal condom! This increases the risk that they will break, putting you at risk of pregnancy and STIs.

Internal condoms are safe and effective. You don’t need to get fitted for them and you can buy them without a prescription. If you choose to use internal condoms, it’s very important to use them according to the package directions EVERY time you have sex.