Male condom

Male condoms are worn on the penis. They are made from very thin latex (rubber), polyisoprene or polyurethane, and are designed to stop a man's semen from coming into contact with his sexual partner.

Condoms are the only contraception that protect against pregnancy and STIs.

What are the benefits of using a male condom?

  • They can be 98 per cent effective if used correctly.
  • You can get free condoms from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries.
  • They help to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Putting on a condom can be an enjoyable part of sex, and doesn't have to feel like an interruption.
  • You only need to use them when you have sex.
  • In most cases, there are no medical side effects from using condoms.
  • Condoms are easy to get and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours.

Things to consider

  • Oil-based products, such as moisturisers, lotions and Vaseline, can make latex condoms less effective.
  • Water-based lubricants are safe to use with all condoms.
  • It's possible for a condom to slip off during sex. If this happens, you may need emergency contraception, and to get checked for STIs.
  • They need to be stored in places that aren't too hot or cold, and away from sharp or rough surfaces that could tear them or wear them away.
  • If you're sensitive to latex, you can use latex free condoms instead. 
  • They must not be used more than once.
  • Don't use out-of-date condoms.
  • Always buy condoms that have the CE mark on the packet. If they don't have the CE mark don't use them.
  • They are very strong but may split or tear if not used properly.
  • If the man has to pull out after he has ejaculated and before the penis goes soft, hold the condom firmly in place.

Where can I get more information?

The Family Planning Association provides a range of helpful information.

My contraception tool

The FPA has developed an interactive tool that can help you find out which methods of contraception may be best for you.

The tool asks questions about your health, lifestyle and contraceptive preferences. All your answers are completely confidential and can't be linked back to you. The tool is available on their website.

Find out more