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MALE CONDOM /

Rubber. Jimmy-hat. Love sock. Wrapper. However you say it, male condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control out there. They slip over a guy's penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping the guy's sperm inside the condom and out of your vagina. There are hundreds of shapes and sizes to choose from, with lube and without. view all methods »

types of male condoms

  • SPERMICIDE

    These condoms are lubricated with a chemical that kills sperm. Ok for vaginal intercourse, but not recommended for oral or anal sex.

  • SPERMICIDE-FREE

    Women and men who are sensitive to spermicide can use spermicide-free condoms. Condoms have very few side effects. This type has even less.

  • LATEX

    Elastic fantastic latex can stretch up to 800%. These are the most common condoms. But don’t use them with oil-based lube. They can break or slip off if you do.

  • NON-LATEX

    Allergic to latex? Prefer oil-based lube? Then these are for you. Usually made from polyurethane, other synthetic high tech materials, or natural lambskin.

STI protection!

The best thing about most types of condoms is that they protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Lambskin condoms, however, are the one type you should not rely on for STI protection—they are able to block sperm, but not infections.

Condoms take effort and commitment

You have to make sure to use them correctly, every time, no matter what, in order for them to be effective.

Cheap and easy to find

Condoms are inexpensive (and sometimes even free from clinics and bars). Plus, you can find them just about everywhere, from truck stops to supermarkets.

No prescription necessary

If you can't make it to the doctor (or don't want to), you can always use a condom.

May help your man last longer

If your man has trouble with premature ejaculation (in other words, he comes too soon) condoms may help him last longer.

Not so good if you're allergic to latex

If you're allergic to latex, you'll need to use a plastic or lambskin condom (but don't forget that lambskin condoms aren't good for STI protection), or try another method.

Don't take our word for it. Check out the videos above to hear women and men talk about their experiences with condoms.

Condoms have a reputation for being extremely affordable and accessible. And what’s not to love about STI and pregnancy prevention that fits in your purse or pocket?

Since condoms come in a variety of materials (and shapes, sizes, colors, textures, etc.), prices may vary more than for some other methods. Most basic condoms cost around a dollar, but splurging on condoms of different sizes, appearances, and materials might increase comfort and/or pleasure.

Payment assistance: Check with your local family planning clinics and find out if they offer free or low-cost condoms and other kinds of birth control (most do). Depending where you live, there may be other places where you can find free condoms.

In-Store Vendors (price range per condom)

  • CVS: $0.80 - $5.10

  • Rite Aid: $0.90 - $4.00

  • Target: $0.60 - $5.40

  • Walgreens: $0.60 - $5.40

  • Walmart: $0.25 - $3.10

Note: These ranges are averaged from a survey of select vendors as of October 2014. Prices may change over time.

Online Vendors (price range per condom)

  • ACareOTC.com: $0.50 - $3.70

  • Amazon.com: $0.22+

  • Condomania.com: $0.50 - $2.50

  • Condomjungle.com: $1.00 - $3.00

  • CVS.com: $0.55 - $4.20

  • Drugstore.com: $0.66 - $3.90

  • LuckyBloke.com: $1.10 - $15.00

  • Pharmapacks.com: $2.30 - $4.20

  • RiteAid.com: $0.75 - $3.60

  • SirRichards.com: $1.36

  • Target.com: $0.25 - $4.15

  • Walgreens.com: $0.25 - $4.40

  • Walmart.com: $0.25 - $3.10

Note: These ranges are averaged—including taxes and standard shipping costs—from a survey of select online vendors as of October 2014. Prices may change over time.

Condoms are pretty easy to use, but life isn't high school health class, and a dick is not a banana, so follow the tips below. And remember—if you're relying on condoms, you have to remember to use them EVERY SINGLE TIME.

How to put a condom on

  1. First things first: Before you use a condom, check the expiration date. Just like cheese, condoms can go bad. (Outdated condoms break easier.)
  2. Put the condom on before your partner's penis touches your vulva. Pre-cum—the fluid that leaks from a guy's penis before he ejaculates—can contain sperm from the last time the guy came.
  3. One condom per erection, please. (So stock up.)
  4. Be careful not to tear the condom when you're unwrapping it. If it's torn, brittle, or stiff, toss it and use another.
  5. Put a drop or two of lube inside the condom. It'll help the condom slide on, and it'll make things more pleasurable for your man.
  6. If your partner isn't circumcised, pull back his foreskin before rolling on the condom.
  7. Leave a half-inch of extra space at the tip to collect the semen, then pinch the air out of the tip.
  8. Unroll the condom over the penis as far as it will go.
  9. Smooth out any air bubbles—they can cause condoms to break.
  10. Then lube up, and get at it.

How to take a condom off

  1. Make sure the guy pulls out before he's soft.
  2. One of you should hold on to the base of the condom while he pulls out so that semen doesn't spill out.
  3. Throw the condom away in a trash can (preferably one that is out of the reach of children and pets). Don't flush it down the toilet! That's just bad for your plumbing.
  4. Make sure to wash up his penis with soap and water before it gets near your vulva again.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.

The Positive

The Negative

  • Protects against STIs, including HIV
  • Cheap and easy to get a hold of
  • No prescription necessary
  • May help with premature ejaculation
  • Unless you're allergic to latex, condoms cause no physical side effects (only 1 or 2 out of 100 people are allergic, and if you happen to be one of them, you can always use a plastic condom instead)
  • Some people may be sensitive to certain brands of lubricant (so, if the lube bugs you or your partner, try another brand)
  • Some guys complain that condoms reduce sensitivity
  • Hard to remember to use if you’re drunk (but that might be when you need one most, so keep them on hand anyway!)

We’re here to get this method working better for you. And if it still doesn’t feel right, we've got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you’re protected while you switch.

  • ...My partner says it reduces his sensitivity.

    Not all condoms are created equal, so 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?

    You can also try switching to a method you can "forget about" for a while, like an IUD, implant, shot, ring, or patch.

    But remember, none of these other methods will protect against STIs. So if you want STI protection, you could try a female condom instead.

    Try a different method...

  • ...Condoms keeps slipping and/or breaking.

    Not all condoms are created equal, so try a few different brands or types to see if that helps.

    You should also make sure to check the expiration date before using a condom and check the package to make sure it hasn't been damaged. It's also possible that you're not putting it on properly. Check out our section on how to put on a condom.

    It may be that you're talking about the condom slipping as your partner is pulling out, after he's ejaculated. You should be able to avoid that by having him pull out while he's still hard. Give it a shot.

    Still not working?

    You may want to check out a non-barrier method, like the patch, pill, ring, IUD, implant, or shot.

    But remember, none of these other methods will protect against STIs. So if you want STI protection, you could try a female condom instead. Or you can try again to find a male condom that works for you.

    Try a different method...

  • ...I heard the pill is bad for the environment.

    Any form of birth control is better than no birth control when it comes to the environment. Still some people insist on “green” contraception. We say: Any effective method of contraception is green since the impact of birth control pales in comparison to the impact of another human.

    Still others say, “green contraception” means “hormone free.” We don’t dispute that that is one way to look at the issue. And fortunately, there are many contraceptives already on the market that are hormone free: condoms (male and female), ParaGard IUD, diaphragms, cervical cap, and the sponge.

    But a lot more goes into a green stamp of approval. The ParaGard IUD is generally thought to be the “greenest” contraceptive. It’s hormone-free, long lasting (up to a decade embracing the reduce portion of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra), made from small amounts of cheap, plentiful metal (copper), and 99% effective. If for whatever reason you don't feel like the IUD is right for you, choose another method. Because when it comes to having sex, the greenest thing you can do is use birth control.

    Still not working?

    There are lots of hormone-free methods to choose from: male condom, female condoms, ParaGard IUD, diaphragm, cervical cap, fertility-awareness methods, and sponge.

    Try a different method...

  • ...I was thinking about using two condoms to make sure I'm extra safe from pregnancy and STIs.

    Still not working?

    Try a different method...

  • ...I'm worried about getting an STI

    Yes, although using a condom every time you have sex and getting tested is the best thing you can do, the CDC has come out with a list of risky behavior to avoid if you want to avoid HIV. You can check out the list here.

    Still not working?

    Try a different method...

  • ...My partner is allergic to latex.

    Latex allergies are rare, but they happen. If you or your partner are allergic to latex, there are non-latex polyurethane condoms you can use to protect against pregnancy and STIs. Lambskin condoms are another option for preventing pregnancy, but they don't protect against STIs.

    Still not working?

    Try a different method...

  • ...I only have flavored condoms.

    The good news: flavored condoms are amazing for oral sex and can help prevent STIs from making camp in your throat. The not-so-good news: some flavored condoms contain sugars that can create chaos down below in the form of yeast infections. So, before jumping in for some fun down south pause and read the packaging to check for added sugars.

  • ...My condom is expired.

    Just like cheese, condoms can go bad… And when they do, they can break more easily. That’s why you should always check the condom’s expiration date and give the wrapper a thorough inspection before opening it. Heat, sun, moisture, and fluorescent light can also make condoms more likely to break. To reduce the risk of breakage, condoms should always be stored in a cool, dry place (and still be easy to access when you need them).

    Still not working?

    Try a different method...

quick facts /

  • They protect against STIs, don't require a prescription, and are inexpensive.

  • The condom is so-so the way people typically use them—better when used perfectly.

  • Usually none. Unless you have a latex allergy.

  • You have to use one EVERY time.

  • Drug stores, clinics, supermarkets, and even some bars and clubs.

  • About $1 per condom or free at lots of clinics and bars. Read more about costs.

effectiveness

Perfect use
98%
Typical use
82%
read more »