UT Teen Health Health

The Condom

The Condom


typical use


(CDC, 2016)


Male condoms are latex or polyurethane sleeves that slip over the penis to help lower the risk of pregnancy and STIs. When a person decides to have sex, it is important they use a condom correctly every time to help lower the risk of transmission of STIs – especially HIV, but they are not 100% effective in preventing either pregnancy or STIs.

Quick Facts!

They reduce the risk of transmission of STIs, don't require a prescription, and are inexpensive.


The condom is less effective than hormonal methods of birth control, but much more effective than not using any method.  They must be used correctly and consistently, every time. 

Side effects

Usually none.


Condoms must used correctly, before any genital-to-genital contact, EVERY time.

How do I get it?

Drug stores, clinics, supermarkets.


$0-$1.80 each.

More about the condom

STI reduction!

Latex condoms reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, when used correctly and every time. They do not eliminate the risk completely, however. The most reliable way to avoid transmission of STIs, including HIV, is to abstain from sexual activity, or be in a relationship that is faithful, with one uninfected person. Many infected people, however, may be unaware of their infections because STIs don't always show symptoms.

Condoms take effort and commitment

Condoms must be used correctly, every time, no matter what, in order for them to be most effective.

Cheap and easy to find

Condoms are inexpensive. They are found in drug stores -and supermarkets.

No prescription necessary

It is not necessary to go to the doctor in order to make use of condoms. But a person who is having sex will need to see a doctor regularly in order to be checked for STIs. If a person is allergic to latex, there are polyurethane (plastic) condoms. There are also lambskin condoms, but they do not reduce STI transmission.

Not so good if you're allergic to latex

If you're allergic to latex, there are polyurethane (plastic) condoms.  There are also lambskin condoms, but they do not reduce STI transmission.

Condoms are inexpensive and easy to find.

How to put a condom on

(instructions included in condom package)
  1. Check the expiration date. (Outdated condoms break easier.)
  2. Put the condom on before any genital-to-genital contact. The fluid that leaks from a penis before ejaculation can contain sperm.
  3. Use a new condom each time.
  4. Be careful not to tear the condom when unwrapping it. If it's torn, brittle, or stiff, toss it and use another.
  5. Leave a half-inch of extra space at the tip to collect the semen, then pinch the air out of the tip.
  6. Unroll the condom over the erect penis as far as it will go.
  7. Smooth out any air bubbles—they can cause condoms to break.

How to take a condom off

  1. Hold on to the base of the condom while pulling out so that semen doesn't spill out.
  2. Remove condom before penis becomes flaccid.
  3. Throw the condom away in a trash can (preferably one that is out of the reach of children and pets).
  4. Be sure and wash hands and penis before any repeated contact.

Some people are allergic to latex.  These people need to use a polyurethane condom.