Condoms are the best way to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy. This is because they are a barrier contraceptive made from latex rubber or a very thin plastic called polyurethane.
Condoms are available free from:
- family planning clinics,
- STD clinics, or
- your doctor or nurse practitioner.
You can also buy condoms from:
- supermarkets, and
- vending machines in public toilets.
There are two basic types of condom available, male and female (called a femidom).
Male condoms are worn on the penis during sex to prevent semen (sperm) getting into your partner's body when the man ejaculates (comes). The condom should be put on when the penis is erect (hard) and before it comes into contact with your partner's body.
To use a male condom:
- Condoms are individually wrapped in foil packages - open the foil carefully down one side to avoid tearing the condom.
- Hold the tip of the condom between your finger and thumb to make sure it is put on the right way round, and that no air is trapped inside. If air is trapped inside the condom, it could cause it to split. Place the condom over the head of the penis.
- While squeezing the tip of the condom, roll it down over the length of the erect penis. If the condom will not unroll then it is probably on inside out. If it is, start again with a new condom.
Make sure the condom stays in place while you are having sex. If it comes off, stop and put a new one on.
When the man has come, and while the penis is still hard, hold the condom in place and carefully withdraw the penis from your partner's body. You should only take the condom off the penis when there is no further contact with your partner's body. Wrap the used condom in a
tissue and put it in the garbage - never flush condoms down the toilet as they may cause environmental damage.
Female condoms allow women to share the responsibility of choosing what type of contraception to use before having sex with their partner. Female condoms can be inserted eight hours before sex, and can also be used during a menstrual cycle (period).
To use a female condom:
- Place the closed end of the condom into the vagina, holding the soft inner ring between your finger and thumb.
- Using two fingers, push the condom as far up the vagina as possible, with the outer ring lying against the outside of the vagina - the outer ring of the condom should be outside the vagina at all times during sex. If the outer ring gets pushed inside the vagina, stop and put it back in the right place.
- Ensure the penis enters the condom - care must be taken to make sure that the penis does not go between the condom and the vaginal wall.
After sex, slightly twist and pull the end of the condom to remove it, taking care not to spill any sperm in the vagina. If this happens, you will need to seek advice about emergency contraception, such as having a copper IUD (intrauterine device) fitted.
If you use a lubricant when you have sex, make sure it is water based. Oil based lubricants, such as baby oil, can damage condoms and make them more likely to break.
If the condom does split while you are having sex, it is important to see your
doctor or go to your local
STD clinic right away. You can get emergency contraception, such as the emergency pill (also known as the morning after pill), to prevent possible pregnancy.
Emergency contraception also can be bought from some pharmacies.
Condoms (male and female)
Emergency contraception zone
How does the female condom work?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
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What services do STD clinics provide?
Where can I get emergency contraception?
I've had sex without a condom (R u thinking?)
Male and female condoms (BBC Relationships)