Male Condoms


Male condoms can prevent pregnancy and most types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from spreading.

If male condoms are used properly they are around 98% effective at preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancy.

The male condom is a thin layer of rubber that covers the erect penis, it works by stopping sexual fluids from passing between person to person, they have a small reservoir at the very tip to catch semen during ejaculation.

It can only be used once, meaning you need a new condom each time you have sex.

Some condoms also contain a “spermicidal agent” that kills the sperm, making the chances of becoming pregnant even less.

They can protect against STIs if used correctly, to do this they should be used for vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Make sure that the man’s penis does not touch the vagina prior to putting the condom on, semen can come out of a man’s penis before ejaculation. If this does happen then you should consider emergency contraception as well as having an STI test.

The condom is around 98% effective when used correctly, meaning that around 2 in every 100 women who use condoms as their only contraceptive method became pregnant over a 1 year period.

If you use condoms with a spermicidal agent then that number is even less.


Condoms have no side effects unless you are sensitive to latex.

If you are sensitive to latex you can try using polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms instead, or find another method of contraception.

Free condoms are available from sexual health clinics, contraceptive clinics, young people’s services and some doctors surgeries.

Find you nearest sexual health clinic

Condoms can be purchased from supermarkets, pharmacies, websites, vending machines in public toilets and some petrol stations.

Always check that your condoms have the BSI kite-mark and the CE mark on the packaging - this means they are of a decent standard and safe to use.

If you are under 16 years old

Contraception services are available and free for people under 16, they are also confidential meaning that they will not inform your parents if you don’t want them to.

  • Cheap to buy and free from some sexual health clinics and doctors surgeries
  • No prescription required from your doctor
  • Good protection against most STIs including HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
  • Good protection against pregnancy (around 98%)
  • No side effects (as long as you are not allergic to latex)
  • Easy to carry and dispose of
  • Can dull sensations
  • New condom needs to be used each time you have intercourse
  • Some people find it may interrupt ‘the mood’ when having to pause foreplay to put a condom on
  • Some people are allergic to latex
  • It is possible that a condom could slip off during sex, if this happens then you may require emergency contraceptive and to get checked for STIs
  • They have a use-by date
  • They can split if not used correctly