How Effective are Condoms?

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Condoms are a method of birth control that are easily available to the public without a prescription. As a result, condoms are a popular form of contraception.

While there are condoms available in the market for both males and females, male condoms are easier to use and are preferred. Condoms do not affect the fertility of the person but prevent conception.

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No method of contraception is marketed as 100% effective in preventing conception for sexually active partners. However, for reasons of their own, some people may not want to become pregnant but do not choose to restrict their sexual activity. The method of contraception that a person chooses will be based on multiple factors such as their health, gender, age, frequency of sexual encounters, and family medical history.

Condoms offer more than birth control

Condoms are a good fit for most people, as long as the male is willing to take on the responsibility of handling contraception. It also offers the partners additional protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if they are not in a monogamous relationship or have, currently or in the past, had sexual intercourse with multiple partners.

STIs are usually transferred with the exchange of bodily fluids. Common STIs include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HI)V, viral hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, as well as Zika and Ebola viruses. By using the barrier method during sex, partners may be able to greatly reduce the chance of acquiring these STIs.

Effectiveness of condoms

Using an effective means of contraception is a good way to reduce the possibility of an unintended pregnancy. If an individual who does not want to have children, either at that moment or any point in the future, begins to consider having intercourse with another partner, contraception should be prioritized.

The simplest way to prevent conception is to create a barrier between the semen expelled during ejaculation and the vagina. If the sperm can’t get to the egg, there will be no fertilization, thus eliminating the potential of pregnancy. Both male and female condoms act as a receptacle for the semen and need to be disposed of after a single-use.

When used properly, or under ideal conditions, female condoms are 79% effective. That is to say that if 100 women use female condoms as a contraception method for a year, about 21% of them will get pregnant. Comparatively, male condoms are associated with an effectiveness of approximately 86%.

Tips for ensuring that condoms prevent pregnancy

Condoms may not be perfect but they are a good way to create a layer of protection against pregnancy and the spread of STIs. Individuals who are reluctant to visit a doctor or are unable to get a prescription for other contraception methods should consider using condoms when they enter a sexual relationship. A number of STIs can be avoided, as well as unwanted pregnancies if condoms are used properly and regularly.

Ensure that the condom is used properly. Most of the time when a condom fails to provide protection is because the user has not put it on correctly. Pinch the bulbous end of the male condom to remove any excess air before rolling it on. When using the female condom, ensure that the inner ring reaches the cervix.

Always check the expiry date before using a condom. Condoms made of latex, which is a material that tends to dry up as they age, which can increase the likelihood that the condom tips during its use. Furthermore, condoms should be stored in a cool and dry place, as exposure to heat and light can cause them to dry up and crack while stored.

It is not recommended that people use their teeth to rip open the condom package, as this could result in accidentally ripping the condom. Instead, it is recommended to use the hands to remove the condom carefully from the package.

If the condom is worn inside out, remove it and throw it away. By reversing the same condom, there is a risk that some sperm will enter the vagina. Also, a condom worn inside out is more likely to slip out of the vagina during sexual intercourse.

If using lubricants with the condom, ensure that they are water-based. Oil-based lubricants can cause the condom material to break down causing micro tears, which can result in the rupture of the condom during use.

Once ejaculation has occurred, hold the base of the condom as the penis is withdrawn from the vagina. This ensures that the condom does not slip off when the penis is removed and does not spill any semen into the vagina.

Should a condom break or rupture during sex, consult a healthcare professional to obtain alternative emergency contraception. The same holds true if the condom slips.

NHS Highland - Condom demonstration


Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Cashmere Lashkari

Written by

Cashmere Lashkari

Cashmere graduated from Nowrosjee Wadia College, Pune with distinction in English Honours with Psychology. She went on to gain two post graduations in Public Relations and Human Resource Training and Development. She has worked as a content writer for nearly two decades. Occasionally she conducts workshops for students and adults on persona enhancement, stress management, and law of attraction.


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