Too embarrassed, too busy or just don’t know the right question? This page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know.


    Yes. Condoms have been proven to provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, condoms are the only contraceptive method that also provides STI protection. Condoms provide different levels of risk reduction for different STIs because infections are spread differently — some are spread by contact with bodily fluids while others are spread by skin to skin contact.
    In general, research shows that condoms are most effective in preventing those STIs that are spread by bodily fluids, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. Condoms also can reduce the risk of contracting diseases spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV). However, condoms only can protect against these diseases if the sores are in areas covered by the condom.

    Condoms are made in different lengths and widths, and different manufacturers produce varying sizes. There is no standard length for condoms, though those made from natural rubber will in addition always stretch if necessary to fit the length of the man's erect penis. The width of a condom can also vary. Some condoms have a slightly smaller width to give a ''closer'' fit, whereas others will be slightly larger.

    Female condoms work in a similar way to the male condom, the sheath works by containing the sperm when the man ejaculates. They are therefore not messy to use if used correctly.

    There are a range of tests performed by both regulatory agencies and the condom manufacturers. These include electronic testing, the water leak test, the air burst test and the strength test.

    Using two condoms at the same time-either two male condoms or a male and female condom- is not a good idea as the friction may result in one or both of the condoms tearing. If you want to take extra precautions against pregnancy when having sex, and are concerned about the possibility of a condom breaking it is better to use another form of contraception. For example, using a contraceptive pill, patch, vaginal ring or IUS as well as a condom will ensure that you both have double protection against pregnancy as well as protection against STIs.

    No. When used as directed, condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy and are the only form of contraception that also can prevent STIs. This is why it’s important to follow directions for correct use.

    Check that the use-by date has not expired, that they carry a standards approval mark (either FDA, ISO, CE or the British Standard Kite Mark), and that they have been properly stored.

    If you are going to use a condom under water it is important that you put the condom on before you get into the water. Also, if the water contains chemicals such as chlorine, or additives such as soap, bath oil or bubble bath then this may affect the latex.

    Yes. Most errors are, in fact, user errors. Some mistakes couples make include placing the condom upside down and then turning it over, taking condom off too soon , putting the condom on too late, opening the package with a sharp object and using an oil-based lubricant . Of course, the most frequent mistake is not using a condom at all.

    Compared to modern hormonal methods, condoms are less reliable and effective in protecting against pregnancy but they are the only method that will protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS.

    It will depend on which country you are in, but in most countries, you can buy condoms from chemists and supermarkets. You can also get them from family planning clinics and some doctors.

    Condoms are really easy to put on correctly with just a tiny bit of know-how and a little practice.

    When used as directed (i.e. the condom doesn't split or burst), they can be very effective in preventing both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If a condom breaks and no other form of contraception such as the contraceptive pill is used, then there is a risk that a woman may become pregnant, so you should consider using emergency contraception. There is also a risk of contracting a STI.

    Some people find that condoms interfere with spontaneity and sensation, but they can be fun to use once you have got used to how they need to be put on.

    No. Most condoms are made out of latex, which is a strong and flexible material. Condoms undergo rigorous quality control testing at each step of the manufacturing process to ensure that they are intact, strong, stable, and have no holes. Just make sure to store your condoms in a cool dry place (not your wallet).

    As with most barrier methods, it can take a bit of practice to use this method correctly. As long as you are clear on how to use them, you should get the hang of it.

    Yes. Many condoms come already lubricated on the outside, inside, or both but you can always add more as long as the lubricant is either water-based or silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants, like baby oil or petroleum jelly, can weaken latex so you should not use these. Always check the instructions for use when choosing a lubricant for use with a condom.

    No, reuse of any condom is not recommended – male or female. A new condom should be used every time you have intercourse.

    When used correctly, the male condom is 98% effective and the female condom 95% - but "correctly" is key – and not always the case!
    With typical, imperfect use the male condom is only 82% effective (meaning approximately 18 out of 100 women will experience an unintended pregnancy within a year), and the female condom scores just 79% (21 out of 100 women will experience an unintended pregnancy).