External Condoms

Male Condoms are contraception methods are used to prevent pregnancy and STIs. Read about how to use condoms for males, also known as external condoms.
External Condoms


External condoms –known as male condoms-  are one of the most popular forms to prevent pregnancies and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Just slip it on the penis.  External condoms (male) lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina, anus or mouth. (There are also internal condoms (female) that go inside the vagina or anus.) External condoms (male) come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. You can also buy them with lube and without.

Types of external condoms (male):

Spermicide. These condoms are lubricated with a chemical that kills sperm. They are not recommended for oral or anal sex.

Spermicide-free. If you or your partner is sensitive to spermicide, look for spermicide-free condoms. Condoms have very few side effects. This type has even less.

Latex. Latex condoms can stretch up to 800%. These are the most common condoms. But do not use them with oil-based lubricants. Oil-based lube can cause the condom to break or slip, increasing your risk of pregnancy or STIs.

Non-latex. If you are allergic to latex or like oil-based lube, then look for non-latex condoms. They are usually made from polyurethane, other synthetic high tech materials, or natural lambskin.

Quick Facts

  • External condoms (male) protect against STIs, including HIV, do not require a prescription, are inexpensive or free, and easy to get.
  • Effectiveness: When used properly, 98 of every 100 individuals will manage to prevent pregnancy. But most people do not use condoms perfectly –if that is the case, only 82 of every 100 individuals using this method will manage to avoid pregnancy.
  • Side effects: usually none. Unless you have a latex or spermicide allergy
  • Effort: high. You have to use a new one EVERY time you have sex.


STI protection. Most external condoms (male)help protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Lambskin condoms are the one type you should not rely on for STI protection. Lambskin condoms block sperm but not infections.

External condoms (male) take effort and commitment. The man needs to slip it on the penis correctly every time, no matter what, for them to be effective.  In some places, it can be difficult for women to demand their male partner uses it every time and correctly.

May help sex last longer. External condoms (male) can decrease sensitivity. In some cases that can be a good thing. (If you or your partner has trouble with premature ejaculation, condoms may help sex last longer.)

Cheap and easy to find. External condoms (male) are inexpensive, and sometimes you can get them for free. You can find them just about everywhere. There are many different kinds to choose from.

No prescription is necessary. If you cannot make it to the health care provider or do not want to go, you can always use an external condom (male).

Not ideal if you are allergic to latex. If you are allergic to latex, you will need to use a non-latex external condom (male). If you cannot find non-latex condoms, try another method.

How To Use

External condoms (male) are pretty easy to use. We have tips below to remind you how to use them properly. And remember – if you are only using condoms, you have to remember to use them EVERY SINGLE TIME you have sex.


How to put an  external condom (male) on:[9]

  1. First, do not be shy.  Putting an external condom (male) can be part of increasing sexual arousal and desire before penetration.  If you feel comfortable to talk with your partner about sexuality, discuss how you can use the condom to increase pleasure in your sexual experience.
  2. Check the expiration date before you use a condom. Condoms can go bad. Expired condoms break easier.
  3. Make sure the condom is on before the penis touches the vulva. Pre-cum – the fluid that leaks from a penis before a man ejaculates – can contain sperm from the last time the guy came.
  4. One condom per erection. Make sure you have extra condoms available. Never reuse a condom.
  5. Be careful not to tear the condom when you are unwrapping it. If it is torn, brittle, or stiff, throw it away. Use another.
  6. You can put a drop or two of non-oil-based lube inside the condom. It will help the condom slide on, and it will make things more pleasurable for your partner.
  7. If the man is not circumcised, it is important to pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom.
  8. Leave a half-inch of extra space at the tip to collect the semen, then pinch the air out of the tip.
  9. Unroll the condom over the penis as far as it will go.
  10. Smooth out any air bubbles. Air bubbles can cause condoms to break.
  11. Use more lube to help prevent chafing if you would like.


How to take an external condom (male) off[3]:

  1. Make sure the penis is out before it is soft.
  2. It is important to hold on to the base of the condom while the man pulls out. This will help prevent semen from spilling out of the condom.
  3. Throw the condom away. Keep it away from children or pets. Do not flush it down a toilet. That is bad for your plumbing.
  4. A man’s penis should be washed with soap and water before it gets near the woman’s vulva again.


Side Effects

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.

The Positive: there are lots of things about external condoms (male) that are good for your body as well as your sex life.[9]

  • Protects against STIs, including HIV
  • Cheap and easy to get
  • No prescription necessary
  • May help with premature ejaculation

The Negative:[5]

  • Unless you are allergic to latex, external condoms (male) cause no physical side effects
    • Only 1 or 2 out of 100 people are allergic. If you happen to be one of them you can always use a non-latex condom instead.
  • Some people may be sensitive to certain brands of lubricant. If that happens, try another brand of condom
  • Some men complain that condoms reduce sensitivity
  • Condoms can be hard to remember to use if you are drunk. You are more likely to remember them if you keep them available though.


[1] CATIE Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. (2013). Condoms for the prevention of HIV and STI transmission. Toronto . Retrieved from https://www.catie.ca/ga-pdf.php?file=sites/default/files/condoms-en.pdf

[2] Dr Marie Marie Stopes International. (2017). Contraception. Retrieved from http://www.mariestopes.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Contraception-brochure-web-200417.pdf

[3] FPA the sexual health charity. (2019). Your guide to condoms. Retrieved from http://www.fpa.org.uk/sites/default/files/condoms-external-and-internal-your-guide.pdf

[4] Festin MR. (2013). Non-latex versus latex male condoms for contraception.The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://extranet.who.int/rhl/topics/fertility-regulation/contraception/non-latex-versus-latex-male-condoms-contraception

[5] IPPF and UNFPA. (2010). MYTHS, MISPERCEPTIONS AND FEARS: ADDRESSING CONDOM USE BARRIERS. New York . Retrieved from http://bibliobase.sermais.pt:8008/BiblioNET/Upload/PDF4/002988.pdf

[6] Lopez, et al. (2014). Behavioral interventions for improving condom use for dual protection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD010662. DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD010662.pub2 Retrieved from https://extranet.who.int/rhl/topics/fertility-regulation/contraception/behavioural-interventions-improving-condom-use-dual-protection

[7] Stover, et al. (2017) The case for investing in the male condom. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177108. Retrieved fromhttps://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177108&type=printable

[8] Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2015). Canadian Contraception Consensus Chapter 5: Barrier Methods. JOGC Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada , 37. Retrieved from https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(16)39376-8/pdf

[9] Shoupe, D. (2016). Barrier Contraceptives: Male Condoms, Vaginal Spermicides, and Cervical Barrier Methods. En D. Shoupe, The Handbook of Contraception: A Guide for Practical Management. Retrieved from http://eknygos.lsmuni.lt/springer/677/147-177.pdf

[10] World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (2018) Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers. Baltimore and Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/260156/9780999203705-eng.pdf?sequence=1

[11] World Health Organization. (2016). Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use. Geneva. Retrieved fromhttps://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/252267/9789241565400-eng.pdf?sequence=1