Sometimes people are too embarrassed, too busy, or just don’t know the right questions. The questions on this page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know though.


Are condoms effective against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

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.

How are condoms tested?

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.

How can I check a condom is safe to use?

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

How often do condoms fail?

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.

How much protection do condoms give against pregnancy? If a condom breaks what are the risks of pregnancy?

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.

Is it possible to get different sizes of condoms?

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.

Is using two condoms better than one in avoiding pregnancy?

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.

Can you use a condom under water?

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.

What is the best way to get condoms?

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.

Does using a male or female condom make sex less pleasurable?

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.

Are female condoms harder to use than male condoms?

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.

If I use a female condom, will there be a lot of mess?

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.

Do condoms break and slip off frequently?

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.

Are condom user errors common?

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.

Are condoms hard to use?

No. Condoms are really easy to put on correctly with just a tiny bit of know-how and a little practice.

Are condoms fragile or delicate?

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).

Can I use lubricants with condoms?

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.7 Always check the instructions for use when choosing a lubricant for use with a condom.

Can I reuse a condom?

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