February is National Condom Month. Condoms are thin, stretchy pouches made of latex, plastic or lambskin. They are worn over the penis during sex to catch semen. Condoms provide protection from both pregnancy and STDs.
Get the facts
Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used properly. They are also highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and most STDs. To be effective, condoms must be put on before genital contact begins.
“Do condoms always work?”
No, not always. A condom can be damaged if stored incorrectly or is past its expiration date. If not put on or taken off correctly, sperm can enter the vagina resulting in an unintended pregnancy. There are websites that give information on condom use and your care provider can teach you about condoms.
Remember that only a water soluble lubricant can be used with a condom. NO Vaseline!
“Can you use flavored condoms for vaginal or anal intercourse?”
As long as they are latex so that you are protected from exposure to STIs. You cannot use the same condom for vaginal/anal sex, and you should only use a water soluble lubricant – never Vaseline.
“What can you do to keep condoms from breaking?”
Store condoms in a cool, dry place (so not in your wallet or very tight pockets for weeks or months). Make sure to check the expiration date to make sure the condoms you’re using are still good. Use water-based lubrication; lube reduces the friction that can lead to breakage. Never use oil-based lube. Remember to also make sure you put the condom on before you start having sex, and keep wearing it until withdrawal.
“Do 2 condoms work better than 1?”
You should double bag your groceries, or maybe wear two pair of socks if your feet are cold, but never double bag your condoms. Wearing two condoms at once can actually cause them to break due to friction. Just use one.
Talking to your partner about condoms
It’s important to be able to talk openly with your partner, especially when it comes to topics regarding your relationship and sex. Some people are embarrassed or intimidated by the topic of condoms, but it’s still important to establish those boundaries and have that conversation.
Deciding when to talk to your partner about condoms can be difficult. The best time to do this is before you’re in a situation where you might need a condom. When people are caught up in the heat of the moment, they may find they’re more likely to be pressured into doing something they regret later. For more information and example conversation starters, visit Teens Health.
Using condoms properly is the best protection against STDs, even if you’re using other forms of birth control. Condoms can be purchased at pharmacies, supermarkets and online. You can also get free condoms at many health clinics. Find a health clinic near you with our clinic finder.
At Fact Not Fiction, we want everyone to have the right information, regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, or whether or not you’re sexually active. Whatever you do, with whomever, don’t do it in the dark. And ALWAYS make sure it’s done with consent.