Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms

What Causes Male Condoms to Break?

There are several reasons why a condom would break:

  • Condoms too old. Modern condom wrappers have a date after which the condom should not be used.
  • Improper storage. Heat damages latex condoms, so they should not be kept in a hot place, such as a car glove compartment or wallet.
  • Not enough lubrication. Additional lubrication is always needed for rectal sex. It may also be needed for vaginal sex. The lubricant should be water-soluble, such as KY jelly.
  • The wrong kind of lubricant. Lubricants that contain oil -- such as Vaseline, baby oils and vegetable oils -- should not be used with latex condoms since they weaken the rubber.
  • Condom too small. Try a larger size.
  • Partner too tight. Use an extra strength condom and more lubricant.

What Causes Condoms to Come Off During Sex?

A condom may come off during sex because:

  • Condom too large. Try a snug condom.
  • Loss of erection. Remove your penis, holding on to the rolled edge of the condom, as soon as you begin to lose your erection.

Where Can I Get Male Condoms?

Condoms can be purchased at most drug stores. Condoms also are sold in some vending machines in public restrooms.

How Effective Are Male Condoms at Preventing Pregnancy?

Condoms are about 85 % effective. With careful use, they are even more effective. Keep in mind that the best way to avoid getting pregnant is to not have sex (abstinence).

How Do Male Condoms Prevent STDs?

Latex condoms provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases by preventing the infected area from coming into contact with the partner. Polyurethane condoms provide some protection, although not as much as latex. Natural or lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs because they have larger holes or "pores" that allow the small particles that can cause some STDs to pass through.

Should Foam be Used With Male Condoms?

Contraceptive foam can offer added protection against pregnancy in case a condom breaks. Frequent use of spermicides can irritate the genital tissues and may increase the risk of STDs, including HIV/AIDS.

How Effective Are Foam and Male Condoms?

When used together and properly, foam and condoms are about 97% effective in preventing pregnancy.

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