- 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.
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.
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.
Availability. Would you like to use this method? Check out the “Methods in my country” section to learn what is available
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:
- 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.
- Check the expiration date before you use a condom. Condoms can go bad. Expired condoms break easier.
- 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.
- One condom per erection. Make sure you have extra condoms available. Never reuse a condom.
- Be careful not to tear the condom when you are unwrapping it. If it is torn, brittle, or stiff, throw it away. Use another.
- 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.
- If the man is not circumcised, it is important to pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom.
- Leave a half-inch of extra space at the tip to collect the semen, then pinch the air out of the tip.
- Unroll the condom over the penis as far as it will go.
- Smooth out any air bubbles. Air bubbles can cause condoms to break.
- Use more lube to help prevent chafing if you would like.
How to take an external condom (male) off:
- Make sure the penis is out before it is soft.
- 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.
- Throw the condom away. Keep it away from children or pets. Do not flush it down a toilet. That is bad for your plumbing.
- A man’s penis should be washed with soap and water before it gets near the woman’s vulva again.
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.
- Protects against STIs, including HIV
- Cheap and easy to get
- No prescription necessary
- May help with premature ejaculation
- 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.
We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you decide to change methods, make sure to stay protected while you switch. Will the external condom (male) reduce a man’s sensitivity?
- Try a few different brands or types to see if that helps. You might want to check out the condoms marketed as “ultra-thin” or “ultra-sensitive.”
- Still not working? Try switching to a method you can “forget about” for a while, like an IUD, implant, injectable, ring, or patch.
- None of these other methods will protect against STIs. So if you want STI protection, try an internal condom (female) instead.
Try a different method:
Why does the external condom (male) keep slipping and/or breaking?
- Make sure to check the expiration date before using a condom. Also, check the package to make sure it has not been damaged.
- It is also possible that you are not putting it on properly. Check out our section on how to put on a condom.
- It may be that the man is pulling out after he is already soft.
- Still not working? You may want to check out a non-barrier method, like the patch, pill, ring, IUD, implant, or injectable.
- None of these other methods will protect against STIs. So if you want STI protection, try a internal condom (female)}instead. Or you can try again to find an external condom (male) that works for you. There are lots of different kinds out there.
- Try a different method: internal condom (female); implant; IUD,; condom; patch; pill,; ring; injectable.
Are two condoms better than one for protecting against STIs and preventing pregnancy?
- When it comes to condoms, two is NOT better than one. Two condoms can create more friction, which increases the chances the condom(s) will break. If you want to be very safe, use a condom and another effective contraceptive method.
- Try a different method: implant
What if my partner is allergic to latex?
- Latex allergies are rare, but they happen. If you or your partner is allergic to latex, look for latex-free condoms to protect against pregnancy and STIs. Lambskin external condoms (male) are another option for preventing pregnancy, but they do not protect against STIs.
- Try a different method: internal condom (female)
What if my external condom (male) is expired?
- Before using a condom, you should always check the expiration date and give the wrapper a thorough inspection.
- To make sure your condom is still intact, first press on the wrapper – you should feel a little bit of air. If you can feel the air cushion, it means that the outside of the wrapper has not been damaged or punctured.
- While still pressing on the wrapper, feel for the slip-slide feeling of the lube. (This will not work with non-lubricated condoms.) When condoms are left in the heat or punctured, the lube can dry or leak out which in turn dries out the condom, weakening it and making it more likely to break in the action.
- If your condom is expired or the packaging is damaged, use a new condom.
- Store your condoms in a cool, dry place.
- Try a different method: implant; IUD; Pill; ring; injectable
What if I only have flavored external condoms (male)?
- Some people love flavored condoms for oral sex. They can help prevent STIs from developing in your throat.
- Some flavored condoms contain sugars. These sugars can cause yeast infections. Look for condoms that do not have any sugar.
What if a guy does not like to use condoms? He says he cannot get hard.
- If a condom is too tight or uncomfortable, the man can lose his erection. It is not you; it is the condom. Do not feel embarrassed.
- Avoid condoms that are too tight or uncomfortable by trying different kinds of condoms.
Do I need to use lube with condoms?
- Using lube with condoms can increase pleasure. It can also reduce discomfort and the chance of condom failure. Many condoms come with lubricant on them, but you can use a little extra. Try to avoid oil-based lubricants (including massage oil, hand lotion, and Vaseline) because they can cause condoms to break.