Male Condom

What is it?

  • Thin cover made of rubber or polyurethane that fits snugly over the penis during sex.

How does it work?

  • It acts as a barrier between the penis and vagina so sperm cannot enter the vagina and reach the egg.

What’s great about it?

  • Quite effective. Only 2 women in 100 will get pregnant in a year if they are used consistently and correctly. If they are not used properly more women will become pregnant (18 in 100).
  • Anyone can buy them from a range of places – does not need a prescription.
  • Does not contain hormones so no side-effects, and periods are not affected.
  • Just use it when you have sex.
  • Protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Different shapes, sizes, textures and colours of condom are available.
  • Can help a man stay hard for longer and come less quickly.

What’s not so great about it?

  • It is less effective than most methods but better than using nothing.
  • Putting it on can interrupt sex.
  • Often fails because: slips off; splits/breaks; wrong size or shape; too much or too little lubricant used; oil based lubricants used which damage it; not used properly e.g. put on after penis and vagina have already come into contact, not withdrawnimmediately after ejaculation.
  • Man needs to withdraw as soon as he has ejaculated and before the penis goes soft so that semen does not spill into the vagina.
  • Some people are sensitive to the latex – if so use polyurethane makes of condom.
  • Some men find it difficult maintaining an erection whilst using them.

Where can I get it?

  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.
  • Buy them at pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines and garages.

Additional Links


SH.UK offers a range of free sexual health service such as STI testing, treatment and contraception across the UK. Simply register then complete an online consultation to order your free STI test kit.

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