Condoms at a Glance

  • Worn on the penis
  • Made of latex or plastic
  • Prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection
  • Can be used with another form of birth control for extra protection
  • Can be used for vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Safe, effective, and easy to get
  • Cost about $1 each, but are sometimes available for free

Are Condoms Right for Me?

All of us who need birth control want to find the method that is best for us. Use My Method to find out which birth control methods may be right for you.

There are two main kinds of condoms — latex condoms and female condoms. Here are some of the most common questions we hear people ask about latex condoms. We hope you find the answers helpful.

What Are Condoms?

Condoms are worn on the penis during intercourse. They are made of thin latex or plastic that has been molded into the shape of a penis. Sometimes they are called rubbers, safes, or jimmies. They prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms are available in different styles and colors, and are available dry, lubricated, and with spermicide.

  • How Do Condoms Work?
    Condoms prevent pregnancy by collecting pre-cum and semen when a man ejaculates. This keeps sperm from entering the vagina. Pregnancy cannot happen if sperm cannot join with an egg.By covering the penis and keeping semen out of the vagina, anus, or mouth, condoms also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
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How Effective Are Condoms?

Effectiveness is an important and common concern when choosing a birth control method.

Like all birth control methods, condoms are more effective when you use them correctly.

  • Each year, 2 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they always use condoms correctly.
  • Each year, 18 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they don’t always use condoms correctly. You can make condoms more effective if you
  • use spermicide with them
  • pull out before ejaculation.

Using Spermicide

The most commonly used spermicide in the U.S. is called nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has certain risks. If it is used many times a day, if it is used by people at risk for HIV, or if it is used for anal sex, it may irritate tissue and increase the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Effectiveness is also a concern when it comes to safer sex. Condoms also protect both you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections. Condoms that are made of latex offer very good protection against HIV. Latex condoms also reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted infections, including

  • chlamydia
  • chancroid
  • gonorrhea
  • hepatitis B
  • herpes
  • HPV
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • syphilis
  • trichomoniasis

Condoms can also prevent urinary tract infections in men who wear them.