- Using latex condoms or femidoms are proven to reduce your risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, Herpes simplex) and HIV in both men and women.
- Condoms used to prevent pregnancy have a failure rate of up to 15% with typical use – so it may be best to use an additional method of contraception such as a Long acting contraception method – Click here for more information on contraception
- Non latex condoms are recommended for people with latex allergies e.g Avanti
- Thicker condoms are not safer and have similar rates of breakages to thin ones.
- The most common reason for condom breakage is failing to expel air from the tip or using a condom that does not fit properly.
- Choose condoms with a British Kite mark or European CE mark, a recognised safety and quality mark and make sure they are in date.
- Always put the condom on before you start having penetrative sex (when penis enters vagina or anus).
- Use a new condom every time you have sex.
- If you are having a long sex session, change your condom after 30 minutes because friction may lead to condom breakage.
- Never use two condoms together and never use a condom and femidom together as they will almost certainly break.
- Some condoms are designed for oral sex – they come in a range of flavours – but they are not suitable for vaginal or anal sex as they may irritate the lining of the vagina or rectum.
- Condoms come in a range of sizes, shapes, lengths and thickness so ask the clinic nurse to show you what’s available and experiment to find what suits you! Click here for more information on how to choose a condom
Advice on lube or lubricants
- Most condoms are already lubricated and additional lube may not be needed for some couples.
- For anal sex additional lube is definitely recommended as this will prevent condom breakage as well as trauma to the delicate lining of the rectum. Trauma increases the risk of STI/HIV transmission.
- Lubricant may be either
- water based e.g.KY jelly, Wet Stuff, Astroglide, Pasante tlc lube or Sensilube
- Silicone based e.g. Eros, ID Millenium – these lubes feel more slippy for longer but they can damage silicone sex toys and stain clothes or bedding.
- DON’T use oil based lubricants as they weaken latex condoms leading to breakage. This includes skin cream, Vaseline, massage oil, baby oil etc.
- Oil based lubricants are safe to use with femidoms or Avanti condoms as they are made from polyurethane.
- Apply lube to the condom covered penis or around the vagina or anus.
- Avoid getting lubricant onto the penis before putting the condom on – this makes it less likely to slip off.
- Apply more lube during sex if it starts to feel dry to reduce the risk of the condom breaking and don’t rely on spittle – it dries quickly, causing condoms to break.