Male condom

Condoms are number one for protection against STIs and 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.....if used correctly, every time you have sex.condomwithpacket2

A male condom is made of very thin latex (rubber) or polyurethane. It fits over the man's erect penis. It catches sperm when a man cums and stops it entering the vagina. Some condoms are lubricated to make them easier to use.

Spend a bit of time looking at the information here and learning more about condoms and if you have any questions, you can always call Ask Brook on 0808 802 1234. Your call will be confidential. That means we won't tell anyone about it.

How do condoms work?
How do you use a condom?
Great reasons to use a condom
How effective is a condom?
What makes a condom less effective?
Who can use condoms?
Types of condom
Do I need to use another method of contraception too?
Free condoms
Look after your condoms
Go for quality 

How do condoms work?

A condom covers the penis and acts as a barrier between the penis and the vagina, the penis and the mouth, or the penis and the anus.

Condoms protect against pregnancy by stopping sperm contained in a man's semen coming into contact with a woman's vagina.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed on through sexual fluids during vaginal, oral or anal sex. As condoms stop sexual fluids being transferred between partners they are also the only method of contraception that protects against STIs. 

How do you use condoms?

Make sure you read the instructions before you start, but just in case, here's our step by step guide...

  • Check that the condoms have the BSI or CE kitemark on the pack (this says they have been tested to a high standard).
  • Take the condom out of the packet, checking the use-by date on the packet first and making sure there are no rips in it. Watch out for sharp nails, jewellery and teeth!
  • Make sure the condom is put on the penis as soon as it is erect (hard), before it goes near anyone's mouth, vagina or anus. This is because the penis can release a clear, runny liquid during arousal (called pre-cum) that may contain semen or bacteria.
  • Pinch the tip of the condom between your thumb and forefinger to get rid of any air.
  • Lower the condom onto the penis head, still holding the teat at the top. Use your other hand to roll the condom down the penis all the way to the base.
  • If you're using a water-based lubricant, now is the time to coat the condom. But be careful of oil-based lubricants or products as they can disintegrate the condom.
  • Check the condom is in place throughout sex.
  • After ejaculation, hold the condom on at the base until the penis is withdrawn and then take it off, wrap it in tissue and bin it (not down the toilet).
  • Always use a brand new condom if you have any sexual contact again - they can only be used once. 

Condom demonstration video

Great reasons to use condoms

  • They are really easy to use.
  • They protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as pregnancy.
  • They have no side effects.
  • They are easily available and FREE from Brook centres (for under 25s), youth clinics, contraception and  and sexual health clinics. You can also buy them at any time of day from supermarkets, vending machines in public toilets, petrol stations etc, even if you're under 16.
  • They come in different shapes, sizes, textures, colours and flavours which can make sex more fun.
  • Condoms are the only method that a man can use to control his own fertility and make sure that he doesn't become a father before he's ready. 

How effective are condoms?

If used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that two women in 100 will get pregnant in a year. If you use an extra water-based lubricant, you can reduce friction during sex. That means the condom is less likely to tear and it also makes sex more enjoyable.

Do not use two condoms. This does not increase protection. The friction actually makes it more likely that the condom will rip. 

What makes a condom less effective?

  • If it is ripped by sharp nails or rings.
  • Oil-based products (e.g. hand cream, Vaseline) can damage latex condoms so it's important to avoid these and use a water-based lubricant.
  • If it slips off.
  • If it isn't put on properly.

Condoms are more likely to break or slip off if they don’t fit properly.  Condoms come in different sizes so you should be able to find one that fits and is comfortable.

There is a risk of pregnancy if the penis comes into contact with the vagina before a condom is put on, even if the man doesn't ejaculate. This is because as soon as the penis is erect, it leaks a few drops of clear liquid called pre-ejaculate. You can't always see this liquid but it can contain thousands of sperm, as well as bacteria and viruses that can cause STIs.

There is also a risk of pregnancy if sperm on your fingers is transferred to the vagina.

So it's important to put a condom on before the penis touches or rubs against the vagina or anus. 

Who can use condoms?

Some men and women are allergic to the latex used in condoms, this is rare but if you or your partner is allergic, it's possible to use latex free polyurethane condoms. 

Types of condoms

There are lots of different types of condom:

  • Polyurethane. In rare cases, condoms can cause an allergic reaction. Polyurethane condoms are made from a form of plastic. This makes an effective alternative and offers the same level of protection as latex condoms.
  • Lubricated. Some condoms are coated in slippery stuff called lubricant. Some people also like to use extra lubricant. This can help make sex more pleasurable and reduce the risk of splitting. Just be sure if you are using extra lubricant with a latex condom, that it is a water based version, as oil based lubricants can damage the condom.
  • Textured. Condoms can also have different textures, such as 'ribbed'. These have a textured or ribbed area on the outside which can increase sensation and make sex more fun for women as they stimulate the vagina.
  • Flavoured. Condoms can also be flavoured so that they smell and taste of something (like strawberry, chocolate or even curry!). This is usually to make oral sex safer and more fun, because there is a risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from unprotected oral sex.
  • Sensitive. A thinner form of latex condom for greater sensation for both partners.
  • Size. Condoms are made longer, shorter, wider and thinner to suit different penis sizes. They can also have different shapes, such as wider at the top.
  • Specialist condoms. Some condoms contain local anaesthetic in the tip "Performer condoms". This can help to slightly numb the penis if a man finds that he ejaculates quicker than he wants to, as it can make sex last longer.  

Do I  need to use a condom as well as other methods of contraception?

Some women like to use condoms with another method of contraception (e.g. the pill, implant, injection or patch). This gives double protection against pregnancy and also helps to protect against STIs. So you can enjoy sex without having to worry. This is sometimes known as Double Dutch.

 Free condoms

You can get condoms FREE from:

  • Brook Centres
  • Other young people's clinics
  • Contraception and sexual health clinics
  • Some GPs

Or buy your condoms, even if you're under 16, from:

  • Chemists
  • Petrol stations
  • Machines in public toilets, bars and clubs
  • Many supermarkets
  • Even mail order or online!

 Look after your condoms

Keeping condoms in your pocket or at the bottom of your bag for a long time might damage the condom. If the wrappers look damaged, then probably the condoms are too old, so throw them away and get new ones. Check the sell-by date. Out of date condoms are less effective.

 Quality condoms

Make sure it's got a BSI kitemark or CE mark on the wrapper. That means they've been machine-tested to a really high standard.

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