The condom is a barrier method of contraception designed to stop sperm from entering the womb. There are 2 types of condoms, one that can be used by men and one that can be used by women. The male condom is by far the most popular type of condom.
The male condom is a latex sheath that fits over the penis when it is erect. It is closed at one end with a ‘teat’ at the top to hold the sperm when a man ejaculates. The condom is rolled down over the erect penis before sex takes place to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. The condom should be held in place on the penis as soon as ejaculation has occurred, to ensure that it does not slip off and to prevent any sperm from escaping as the penis is withdrawn.
The female condom is a latex sheath which fits inside the woman’s vagina. There is a flexible ring at each end to hold the female condom in place. The closed end of the female condom covers the cervix and the open end is positioned at the entrance of the vagina.
With “perfect use” condoms are 95-98% effective meaning that between 2 and 5 woman in 100 will become pregnant in a year.1
Because with every day “typical use” they are not always used correctly, up to 18 and 21 women out of 100 in a year will become pregnant.1
- They are an option for women who cannot or do not want to use hormonal contraception
- They are the only form of contraception that when used correctly offer protection against most sexually transmitted infections
- They are recommended when you have sex with a new partner, have multiple sexual partners or are unsure of your partner’s sexual history
- They do not interfere with your menstrual cycle
- They have no hormone-related side effects
- They need only be used when you are having sex
- They require practice to be used effectively
- They can fail by tearing or coming off during sex
- Oil-based lubricants (such as baby oil) should not be used with condoms as they can weaken the latex and cause it to burst
- They can interfere with spontaneity and sensation
Condoms can be bought without a prescription from Family Planning Clinics, Well Woman Clinics, pharmacies, supermarkets and other shops. Female condoms are not as widely available as male condoms.