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Condoms are made of very thin latex (rubber) and are designed to cover the penis in order to stop fluids being transferred between partners.
Condoms protect against unwanted pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with the vagina. Read more
Condoms are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
You only need to use them when you have sex
Sometimes they can split or slip off
Some people are allergic to the latex used in condoms
You can get free condoms from Brook services, young people’s services, contraception clinics, GUM clinics and some GP surgeries. Read more
Condoms protect against unwanted pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with the vagina (which could lead to an egg being fertilised).
An external condom covers the penis and acts as a barrier between it and the mouth, vagina, penis or anus. This prevents sexual fluids being transferred between partners, which provides protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You can get free condoms from Brook services, young people’s services, contraception clinics, GUM clinics and some GP surgeries. Use our Find a Service tool to find places near you.
You can also buy condoms, even if you’re under 16, from pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines in public toilets and online.
When used correctly condoms are 98% effective at protecting against pregnancy.
If you’re doing all this but the condom won’t go all the way down your penis, you may need to use a different sized condom. You can have a chat about condoms at your local sexual health service. They won’t judge you – they’re there to help and you have a right to enjoy sex safely.
Read our in-depth guide to using condoms.
Accidents happen and if the condom has broken, split, slipped off or you’re worried it was used incorrectly, don’t panic. Use our Find a service tool to find your local sexual health service where you can have a quick, simple and painless test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and emergency contraception if there is a risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Avoid using spermicide lubricated condoms. These are being phased out because research has shown that a spermicide called nonoxynol 9 doesn’t protect against some STIs (and may even increase the risk).
If you go to a service to get condoms, you will usually have a private consultation where they will ask you a few questions and they may show you how to use condoms by giving a demonstration on a plastic penis.
If its easier, go to a clinic with a friend or a partner. Bringing up the subject of condoms when you’re about to have sex can be tricky. Get some tips for talking about it in advance with our page on talking about condoms.
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