The male (external) condom is a thin latex rubber or non-latex polyisoprene covering which is rolled onto an erect (hard) penis.
How does it work?
Worn on the penis during sex, the male (external) condom provides a barrier which collects semen (fluid that contains sperm) and stops the transfer of fluids to a partner. Condoms can also be used on sex toys if they are being shared between people. This will reduce the risk of STI transmission.
How well does it work?
Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly, but in real life they can be less effective (82%) because condoms can break and are not always used correctly.
Condoms are the best protection against STIs but are less effective at preventing pregnancy than some other types of contraception.
Condoms work best when used for every act of sex as long as you:
- use a new one every time
- take care to put it on and take it off correctly
What are the benefits?
- Condoms are the only form of contraception which also reduce the risk of STIs.
- Condoms are effective if used properly every time you have sex. But they are not as effective as methods such as the implant or Pill.
- They can be used at the same time as another effective type of contraception such as the implant or the Pill, although male (external) condoms shouldn’t be used at the same time as female (internal) condoms and you should never use two male (external) condoms at once!
- They’re cheap, small and easy to carry.
- You don’t have to see a doctor to get them.
What are the downsides?
- You need to use a new condom each time you have sex.
- Most condoms are made from latex rubber which is perishable. This means that they can break if they aren’t stored correctly. Always keep condoms in a cool place and check the use-by date.
- Oil-based lube can cause latex condoms to break so only use water-based lube.
Are there side effects?
There are no side-effects, although some people can be allergic to the latex rubber or the lube. This isn’t common, but if you or your partner have a reaction, try using a non-latex condom made from polyisoprene (a type of soft plastic).
Condoms are the only form of contraception that also protect against STIs.
Can anyone use the male (external) condom?
Anyone can choose to use condoms.
Where do you get it?
Male (external) condoms are sold in lots of places such as chemists, supermarkets, petrol stations, online and some public bathrooms.
Condoms are free at all Family Planning NSW clinics and heaps of other services across NSW, as part of our Condom Credit Card (CCC) Project).
Find more information about How to use a condom here.