Currently, male condoms are the only widely available, proven method for reducing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during intercourse. Organizations around the world recommend condom use for the prevention of pregnancy and HIV/STIs.
While not as widely available, female condoms also offer protection against unintended pregnancy and STIs. Female condoms offer women greater control over contraception and STI prevention.
ASHA supports the promotion and use of condoms to limit the spread of STIs and their harmful consequences. Condoms are effective when people use them correctly and consistently.
The surest way to avoid transmission of STIs is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is not infected with any sexually transmitted infections. People who choose to be sexually active must have access to information and options to reduce their risk.
Male condoms: DOs and DON’Ts
- DO use only latex or polyurethane (plastic) condoms.
- DO keep condoms in a cool, dry place.
- DO put the condom on an erect (hard) penis before there is any contact with a partner’s genitals.
- DO use plenty of lubricant with latex condoms if you find vaginal sex is uncomfortable, or that condoms tend to rip or tear. Don’t use oil-based products with latex condoms (see DON’TS for more on this). Water-based lubes are condom-friendly but might increase the risks of STIs with anal sex. Consider using silicone-based lubricants for anal intercourse.
- DO hold the condom in place at the base of the penis before withdrawing (pulling out) after sex.
- DO throw the condom away after it’s been used.
- DON’T use out of date condoms. Check the expiration date carefully. Old condoms can be dry, brittle or weakened and can break more easily.
- DON’T unroll the condom before putting it on the erect penis.
- DON’T leave condoms in hot places like your wallet or in your car.
- DON’T use oil-based products, like baby or cooking oils, hand lotion or petroleum jelly (like Vaseline®) as lubricants with latex condoms. The oil quickly weakens latex and can cause condoms to break.
- DON’T use your fingernails or teeth when opening a condom wrapper. It’s very easy to tear the condom inside. If you do tear a condom while opening the wrapper, throw that condom away and get a new one.
- DON’T reuse a condom. Always use a new condom for each kind of sex you have.
- DON’T regularly use lubricants with spermicide called nonoxynol-9 (“N-9”) as they may cause skin irritation or tiny abrasions that make the genital skin more susceptible to STIs.