Healthy living

Condoms

If used properly, male and female condoms are a very good form of contraceptive. If you use them correctly every time you have sex, condoms also reduce the risk of passing on or catching:

Do not use male and female condoms at the same time, as the friction can lead to them slipping off or tearing.

Male condoms

The condom is the only contraceptive available for men.

It is made of thin rubber (latex) and is fitted over an erect penis. You need to use a new condom each time you have sex. The condom must be rolled onto the man's penis before there is any close physical contact with another person's mouth, vagina or anus. Even sperm spilled near the vagina can cause a pregnancy.

The condom collects the man's sperm and stops them entering the other person's body. This also decreases the chance of spreading most STIs.

How to use them correctly

  • Before you start having sex, open the packet carefully and in good light, so that you do not tear the condom. Pinch the tip of the condom and roll it carefully all the way down the shaft of the erect penis.
  • Use a personal water-based lubricant on the outside of the condom. Use lots of lubricant, especially for anal sex. Without a lubricant the condom can tear. Don’t use oil-based lubricants like Vaseline or baby oil, which weaken the latex. Don’t use saliva as it dries too quickly and can contain infection.
    2 images of male condom being rolled onto shaft of penisw
  • Immediately after ejaculating, hold the condom firmly at its base, and withdraw the penis while it is still erect. Don’t re-use condoms. When finished, wrap the used condom in toilet paper and put it in the rubbish bin, not down the toilet.
    male condom being removed from penis
  • Don’t re-use condoms or use two condoms at once.
  • If the condom breaks, visit your doctor or a sexual health service within 24 hours.

Advantages

  • Condoms don’t cost much, are small, and are easy to carry.
  • You don’t have to see a doctor.
  • Condoms are sold at pharmacies, supermarkets and through mail order.
  • Condoms are safe and work well if used properly.

Things to consider

  • Check the expiry date on the packet – don’t use old condoms as the latex breaks down and there can be holes.
  • You need to use a new condom each time you have sex, and for each kind of sex you have.
  • The condom must be put on before any intimate contact occurs, and taken off straight after the man ejaculates (comes).
  • Some people have an allergy to latex (rubber). You can get polyurethane condoms but they’re harder to find and more expensive than latex ones.
  • Take care when removing the penis from the vagina, mouth or anus otherwise the condom might come off or tear.
  • Water-based lubricants will help stop the condom breaking – never use oil-based lubricants as they can damage the latex.
  • Condoms act as a barrier to infections such as HIV. They may not provide protection against conditions such as herpes and genital warts.
  • If you have a new sex partner, or if either you or your partner has sex with other people, use condoms to help prevent HIV and other STIs. Use them in addition to any other contraceptive you may be using.
Female condoms

The female condom is a polyurethane (plastic) pouch that fits inside a woman’s vagina. It has a soft ring on each end. The outer ring stays on the outside of the vagina and partly covers the labia (lips), while the inner ring fits on the inside of the vagina near the cervix to hold the condom in place. It collects the man’s sperm, stopping them from entering the vagina.

Use a new female condom each time you have sex. It must be in place before any close physical contact takes place, because even sperm spilled near the vagina can cause a pregnancy.

A female condom is effective if used properly. It also gives good protection against HIV and some STIs.

How to use them correctly

  • The female condom has a flexible ring at each end. The outer ring at the open end covers the area around the opening of the vagina. The inner ring is used for insertion and holding it in place. Rub the sides of the condom together to spread the lubricant.
  • Hold the inner ring between your thumb and middle finger.
  • Put your index finger on the pouch between your thumb and other fingers, and squeeze the inner ring.
    2 images of female condom
  • Slide it into your vagina as far as it will go, pushing up the front of the inner ring so it slips into place. When it’s in the right place you can’t feel it. It can’t go in too far and it won’t hurt.
  • Make sure it is in the correct place and is not twisted. The outer ring should be outside the vagina.
    2 images of female condom being inserted into vagina
  • If the female condom bunches up when the penis is inserted, stop, put on more lubricant, and guide the penis back in.
    female condom being removed from vagina
  • After sex, remove the female condom before you stand up. Squeeze the outer ring and twist it, and pull it out gently. Wrap it in toilet paper, and put it in the rubbish bin, not down the toilet.
  • Don’t re-use the female condom.

Advantages

  • The female partner has control over contraception.
  • Female condoms are small and easy to carry.
  • Female condoms fit all women, and can be used during your period.
  • Because they are made of plastic, there are no problems with latex allergy. This means you can also use oil-based lubricants.
  • You don’t have to see a doctor. Female condoms are sold at some health services and through mail order.
  • Some people prefer the female condom to the male condom as you can insert it several hours ahead, it warms to the body, and the male doesn’t have to withdraw his penis straight after ejaculation (orgasm or coming).

Things to consider

  • It is possible for the penis to slip into the vagina between the female condom and the vaginal wall.
  • The female condom can make a slight rustling noise during use (try using lubricant).
  • They are more expensive than male condoms, and are not so readily available.
  • Take care when removing the penis from the vagina, otherwise the condom might come off or tear.
  • Female condoms act as a barrier to infections such as HIV. They may not provide protection against conditions such as herpes and genital warts.
  • If you have a new sex partner, or if either you or your partner has sex with other people, use condoms to help prevent HIV and other STIs. Use them in addition to any other contraceptive you may be using to increase protection.

Where to get help


Acknowledgements
Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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