Condoms

Posted in Health Information Brochures

Condoms are worn during sexual activity to prevent sexually transmissible infections and as a contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy.

WHAT ARE CONDOMS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Condoms are made of thin, strong, latex rubber or polyurethane. A condom is rolled onto the erect penis before vaginal, anal or oral sex. A condom can only be used once. The condom is a physical barrier that stops body fluids (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids) passing between sexual partners.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CONDOMS AS A CONTRACEPTION?

With perfect use condoms are 98% effective, and with typical use they are 82% effective as a contraceptive method. Perfect use means using a condom correctly every time you have sex, and using it for the whole time. If not used correctly and consistently, the failure rate will be higher.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF CONDOMS?

Condoms are the best protection against sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

  • They can be used as needed.
  • They are readily available from supermarkets, pharmacies, adult shops and vending machines.
  • They are relatively inexpensive.
  • There are no significant medical risks or side effects.
  • They can be used in combination with other contraceptive methods, such as the contraceptive pill, to increase the effectiveness of that method.
  • They can be used with fertility awareness methods to increase protection.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF CONDOMS?

  • A small number of people are sensitive to latex or lubricant. (Non-latex condoms are available for people with latex allergies, and there are low allergy lubricants available).
  • The interruption to sexual activity can be a concern for some people.
  • Some people complain of reduced sensitivity during sexual activity.
  • Condoms can break or slip off.
  • Some people may experience difficulties with erections (this can sometimes be helped by practicing using condoms before any partnered sexual activity, especially for younger people).
  • Those whose erections are less firm may find it a little difficult to use condoms.

WHY IS LUBRICATION IMPORTANT?

Lubrication is the wetness that makes penetration more comfortable during intercourse. While most condoms are already lubricated, additional water-based lubrication is recommended as this will increase comfort and help prevent breakages. Water-based lubricants are available from pharmacies and supermarkets; a number of brands are available so find one that suits. Saliva (spit) is not usually slippery enough to use but may help if nothing else is available. Oil-based lubricants can weaken latex condoms, and should not be used. These include petroleum jelly (eg, Vaseline), cooking oil, baby oil, suntan oil, massage oil, hand lotions or creams.

WHY DO CONDOMS SLIP OR BREAK?

The condom may slip or break if:

  • It is not put on correctly.
  • There is not enough lubrication during sexual intercourse.
  • An oil-based lubricant is used.
  • A vaginal thrush treatment which is oil based is used. Check with your pharmacist and use a water based treatment.
  • It is torn by fingernails, jewellery or teeth.
  • Sexual intercourse is prolonged or very vigorous.
  • The penis loses erection before withdrawal.
  • The penis and condom are not held securely when withdrawing.
  • The condom is too big or small for the penis.
  • The latex is weakened when past its use by date or exposed to heat or sunlight.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF A CONDOM SLIPS OR BREAKS?

Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent pregnancy if a condom slips or breaks. Emergency contraception is taken by a female partner and can be obtained from Walk in Centres, SHFPACT, Canberra Sexual Health Centre, and most chemists. If you are concerned about STIs or HIV risk please contact SHFPACT or Canberra Sexual Health Centre.

WHERE ARE CONDOMS AVAILABLE?

Condoms are available from pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines, and adult shops. They come in different shapes, thicknesses, flavours, textures, sizes and colours. Adult shops can assist with less common sizes if you are having difficulty with fit or comfort wearing a condom. For more information on the Female Condom see SHFPACT’s Info Brochure on the Female Condom.

HOW DO I USE A CONDOM?

How to use a condom

  • Always make sure there is mutual consent.
  • Always use a new condom each time you have penetrative sex.
  1. Push condom to one side before opening packet. Gently tear the corner and remove the condom. Take care when opening condom packets as the use of your fingers, teeth and fingernails may cause damage to the condom.
  2. Condoms should be placed on the erect penis before any contact with the sexual partner’s genitals. Squeeze the air out of the tip with your thumb and finger — an air bubble in the tip can cause bursting or breakage during ejaculation. Roll the condom all the way to the base of the penis.
  3. Apply water based lubricant freely to the condom both before and during intercourse to help prevent breakages and to increase comfort.
  4. Withdraw the penis immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom at the base of the penis, before the penis becomes soft. Remove the condom. Be careful not to allow the condom or the penis to touch the sexual partner’s genitals or anus.
  5. Dispose of the condom in a rubbish bin. Don’t flush it down the toilet!

CONDOMS BROCHURE PDF

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Last updated October 2018

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