What is the external (male*) condom?
- An external condom is a thin covering, usually made of latex rubber, that is worn over an erect (hard) penis** or sex toy during oral, vaginal** or anal sex.
- The external condom prevents both unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Non-latex condoms made out of polyurethane, tactylon and polyisoprene are available for people who are sensitive to latex.
- Lambskin condoms only protect against pregnancy, not STIs.
How does the external condom prevent pregnancy and STIs?
- In order to get pregnant, sperm must enter your vagina*, swim into your uterus and fertilize an egg that has been released from the ovaries during ovulation. The condom prevents semen (cum) that contains sperm from getting inside and reaching an egg.
- In order to pass on most STIs, bodily fluids (anal fluids, vaginal fluids, semen or blood) from someone who has an STI must come into contact with someone else’s mucus membranes (inside the penis, mouth, anus, or vagina) The condom prevents bodily fluids from coming into contact with mucus membranes.
How effective is the external condom?
- Latex external condoms are 97% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that if 100 people use condoms correctly for one year, only 3 people will get pregnant.
- Spermicide-coated condoms have the same level of effectiveness.
- Because condoms may be used incorrectly, they are closer to 86% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use.
- Condoms offer excellent protection against most STIs, but are less effective in preventing STIs that are spread from genital skin-to-skin contact like herpes or HPV because condoms may not cover all of the affected areas.