Fact: If you’re hav­ing sex, con­doms are the best way to pro­tect against STIs.

Con­sis­tent and cor­rect use of con­doms helps pre­vent preg­nan­cy, stop the spread of STIs, and pro­vide even bet­ter pro­tec­tion when they’re com­bined with anoth­er form of birth control.

Take a scroll and find out where you can get con­doms, how they work, and the most effec­tive ways to use them.

What do you know about condoms? 

Did you know that besides absti­nence (not hav­ing sex), con­doms are the best method of pro­tect­ing against sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions (STIs)? Con­doms are 97% effec­tive when they are used properly.

Con­doms also help to pre­vent preg­nan­cy and pro­vide even bet­ter pro­tec­tion when they’re dou­bled up with anoth­er form of birth control.

Any­one can use them, no mat­ter their gen­der or size or even if they have aller­gies. Con­doms today are made with all this in mind, so you can find the right one to keep you safe.

Pick them up free from a clin­ic, and be sure to keep them in a cool, dry place (like a lock­er or draw­er, not the wal­let in your back pock­et). Stor­ing con­doms in a squished or hot envi­ron­ment can weak­en them and they might break when you go to use them. Check the expiry date, too, since expired con­doms are also less effective.

Why should I use a condom? 

Here are a few rea­sons why you should use a condom:

  • They’re your best defense against STIs.
  • They help pre­vent pregnancy.
  • They come in cool shapes and tex­tures that might even enhance your sex­u­al experience.
  • They’re safe for all users. If you’re aller­gic to latex, polyurethane con­doms might be a good choice.
  • You can prob­a­bly get them for free.

Dif­fer­ent kinds of condoms 

Con­doms come in dif­fer­ent sizes, shapes, and mate­ri­als. Options are avail­able so you and your part­ner can decide what will work for you.

Male con­doms”

Male con­doms are the most com­mon­ly used type of con­dom. They’re made to fit over the penis (or cer­tain sex toys), with room at the tip for col­lect­ing semen. These con­doms are typ­i­cal­ly made of latex or syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als, and they come in dif­fer­ent sizes and shapes to fit dif­fer­ent sizes and shapes of penis­es. Some of the male con­dom options are:

  • Most con­doms are made of latex: Latex is thin and pre­vents all sperm, bac­te­ria, and virus­es from pass­ing through it. Latex con­doms are inex­pen­sive and even free in many places. Only water-based lubri­cants can be used with latex. For exam­ple, you can use K‑Y Jel­ly®, Astroglide®, or Wet Lubri­cants®. Do not use ANY oil based lube – you will tear the condom.
  • Con­doms can also be made out of polyurethane. This is a great option for peo­ple who have latex aller­gies and it is just as safe and effec­tive as latex. These con­doms can be a lit­tle more expen­sive and a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult to find. How­ev­er, they can be used with both water and oil based lubri­cants (like body oil, but­ter and Vaseline).
  • Lamb­skin con­doms will pre­vent preg­nan­cy, but the pores are too big to pre­vent the trans­mis­sion of some virus­es (like HIV). Do not use a lamb­skin con­dom for safer sex.
  • You can also find nov­el­ty con­doms” (joke con­doms or spe­cial­ty” con­doms). Don’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly trust these for safer sex; read the label close­ly to see if they are real­ly for STI protection.

Not all penis­es are the same shape. That’s why con­doms come in a vari­ety of shapes, sizes, and styles, includ­ing thin, ribbed, coloured, or stud­ded. If one kind or brand of con­dom does­n’t work for you or your part­ner, try adding lube or try dif­fer­ent ones until you find one that works.

Con­doms also come in many flavours, which is great for oral sex. But these con­doms may cause yeast infec­tions, so it’s a good idea to switch to a reg­u­lar lubri­cat­ed con­dom for vagi­nal or anal sex. Coloured con­doms can also make sex a lit­tle more fun and inter­est­ing – go ahead and sur­prise your partner.

Inter­nal Con­doms / Reality®

Also known and female con­doms, this is a soft, loose-fit­ting plas­tic pouch (polyurethane) that’s insert­ed into the vagi­na or anus. There’s a flex­i­ble ring at the bot­tom of the pouch that keeps the con­dom in place, and a flex­i­ble ring at the oth­er end that opens out­side the body. Here are some of the ben­e­fits to using the inter­nal condom:

  • It’s suit­able for peo­ple who are aller­gic to latex.
  • It can be put in up to eight hours before sex hap­pens, so there’s no need to pause before sex to put a male con­dom on.
  • It sits just out­side the body, so it cov­ers a bit more area and so can help a lit­tle more than male con­doms to pre­vent STIs that are spread by skin-to-skin con­tact (like her­pes or HPV).
  • Inter­nal con­doms are free at some clin­ics, but you may want to call first to make sure they have them in stock. You can also pick them up at most stores that sell con­doms or pharmacies.

Sex/​dental dams

Sex dams, also called den­tal dams, are kind of like con­doms – actu­al­ly, they can even be made out of male con­doms. They’re used as a bar­ri­er between your mouth and the oth­er person’s vagi­na, anus, or tes­ti­cles dur­ing oral sex.

How to use a condom

It’s real­ly impor­tant to use a con­dom from the very begin­ning of anal, oral, or vagi­nal sex and to keep it on until the very end. This is because some infec­tions don’t need semen (‘cum’) to be trans­mit­ted (they can be spread from skin-to-skin con­tact), and even small amounts of pre-cum can trans­mit STIs or cause pregnancy.

Whether you’re using a male con­dom, a inter­nal con­dom, or a sex/​dental dam, these are impor­tant things to check before you even take the con­dom out of its package:

  • Are there any rips, holes, or tears in the pack­age? If there are, the con­dom could be dam­aged. Even if it doesn’t look dam­aged to you, all it takes is a tiny pin-sized hole to make it ineffective.
  • Check the expiry date. You should find this on the back of a male con­dom pack­age and under the back flap of a inter­nal con­dom. Expired con­doms are a lot more like­ly to break, and if they have sper­mi­cide on them, it like­ly won’t work if it’s past its expiry date.
  • Does the pack­age say it will help pre­vent STIs, HIV, and preg­nan­cy? If it says For nov­el­ty use only,” that is a big red flag that the con­dom should not be used.

For spe­cif­ic instruc­tions on how to use dif­fer­ent kinds of con­doms (with pic­tures), click on the links below:

Buy­ing Condoms 

Some­times peo­ple feel embar­rassed going into a store and ask­ing for con­doms. But you should be proud! Buy­ing con­doms says that you are respon­si­ble and that you accept your sex­u­al­i­ty as a nor­mal part of your life.

You can also find free con­doms by check­ing out our Clin­ic and Con­dom Find­er.

What if my part­ner doesn’t want to use a condom? 

Ide­al­ly, you should talk with your part­ner about using con­doms before you have sex. Explain to your part­ner why using a con­dom is impor­tant to you. You can also send them to this web­site if they want to read it for themselves.

But, if they decide they don’t want to use one right when you’re about to have sex, you might feel pres­sured to just go ahead with­out one. If you want to com­mu­ni­cate with them – and quick­ly – click on the Con­dom Come­backs’ (below) to help get your point across: