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revised Tuesday July 30 2013
healthy sexuality
Birth Control Methods


The male condom is a thin, tight-fitting sheath made from latex or polyurethane. It covers an erect penis and collects ejaculate or pre-ejaculate (cum/semen).

A female condom is a thin, loose-fitting, flexible plastic tube that is worn inside the vagina.

About Male Condoms

Things to Know Before Using Male Condoms

You can buy condoms over the counter at drugstores, convenience stores and many grocery stores. Peel's healthy sexuality clinics and some school health services offer free condoms.


  • Condoms are available in a variety of sizes, colours, and textures.
  • Condoms can be made of latex, polyurethane (plastic) or lambskin. Condoms made of animal lambskin don't protect against sexually transmitted infections. Use polyurethane condoms if you or your partner is allergic to latex.
  • Flavoured condoms are available for oral sex.

Using Lubrication

  • Some condoms come with a water-based or silicone lubricant already added.
  • Don't lubricate a condom with petroleum jelly (Vaseline®), mineral oil, baby oil, vegetable oil or massage oil. These oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms and reduce their effectiveness.
  • Use only water-based lubricants such as Astroglide® or K-Y Jelly® for more lubrication during sex.
  • Use extra-strength condoms with additional extra water-based lubricant for anal sex.

Expiry Dates and Storage

  • Condoms have an expiry date which by law must be printed on each condom package. Check the expiry date before you open the package.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place away from heat, UV light and high humidity, and don't keep condoms in your wallet or next to your body for a long period of time.

How to Use a Male Condom


What to Do

Step 1

  • Open the wrapper carefully with your fingers. Be careful not to tear the condom with jewellery or your fingernails.

Step 2

  • Pinch the air from the tip of the condom and keep it pinched while you put the condom on.

Step 3

  • Place the condom on the end of your erect penis. Unroll the condom all the way down the shaft. (If you’re not circumcized, pull your foreskin back before putting the condom on.)

Step 4

  • After your ejaculate (cum), hold onto the condom at the base of your penis and pull out of your partner’s vagina before your penis gets soft. Holding the condom at the base will stop the condom from slipping off of your penis
Step 5
  • Gently remove the condom and throw it in the garbage wrapped in tissue or toilet paper. (Don't flush it down the toilet, as it can cause the toilet to clog.)


Used correctly and consistently, the effectiveness rate for the male condom is 85%. This means that if 100 couples use male condoms for one year, 15 will get pregnant.*

The typical effectiveness rate of the male condom by itself is 85%. This means if 100 couples use male condoms for one year, 15 will get pregnant.

Spermicidal foams and jellies used together with a male condom increases the effectiveness to over 95% when used correctly and consistently.

*source: The Mayo Clinic


Advantages & Disadvantages



  • Can prevent the spread of many sexually transmitted infections.
  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t affect future fertility.
  • Doesn’t require a prescription.
  • Small, easy to carry, and disposable.
  • Might take some negotiating to get your partner to wear one.
  • May break during use.
  • Can’t be applied in advance.
  • Can interrupt intercourse.
  • Latex condoms may cause allergic reactions.
  • Lamb-skin type does not protect against STIs.

Cautions & Things to Consider

Side Effects

  • Skin irritation
  • Possible allergic reaction to latex and/or spermicide
  • Vaginitis due to the additives in some flavoured condoms
  • Decreased sensation

What to Say If Your Partner Won’t Wear a Condom

If Your Partner Says...

Respond By Saying...

"Sex isn't as good. I can't feel much with a condom on."

"There's plenty of feeling left and I wouldn't feel safe without it." or

"You're right. Condoms do change the feeling for both of us a little, but it's not that bad. It gives us a chance to explore other parts of our bodies."

"I'm on the pill. Trust me."

"I do trust you but the pill is not enough. Let's play it safe." or

"The pill works great for stopping pregnancy, but condoms can protect us from infections we might not even know we have."

"I don't have a condom with me."

"The drugstore up the street is open all night. Let's go buy some." or

"I have one." or

"Then let's wait until we're prepared."

"I'm a virgin."

"I'm not and I want to protect you."

"Putting it on breaks the mood. It's not romantic." "It doesn't have to break the mood. Let me show you."
"But I love you."

"I want to protect you because I love you." or

"I love you too. But we still need to use condoms."

"I don't use condoms".

"O.K, then let's think of other ways we can satisfy each other." or

"I never make love without a condom. No glove, no love."

"But we've been having sex without condoms." "That doesn't mean we can't use them now."
"I wouldn't give you a disease." "I know you wouldn't on purpose, but either of us could have an infection and not know it. Why take chances?"
“Just this once." "Once is all it takes."

Ways to Reduce Irritation Caused by Latex

  • Put a non-latex (natural lambskin) condom either on top or under the latex condom, depending upon which partner is affected.
  • Use non-latex or polyurethane condoms.
  • Avoid spermicides containing Nonoxynol 9.

Getting the Right Fit

Condoms are generally 'one size fits all' for the most part, although there are some 'extra large' sizes to choose from. Trying different brands will help you find the one that’s most comfortable for you and your partner.


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Revised: Tuesday July 30 2013

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