The primary reason that condoms fail to prevent HIV/STD infection or pregnancy is incorrect or inconsistent use, not failure of the condom itself. Consistent use means using a condom with each act of anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Correct condom use includes all of the following steps:
- Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
- Use the condom throughout sex- from start to finish.
- Put on the condom as soon as erection occurs and before any vaginal, anal, or oral contact with the penis.
- Hold the tip of the condom and unroll it onto the erect penis, leaving space at the tip of the condom, yet ensuring that no air is trapped in the condom' s tip.
- Adequate lubrication is important to prevent condom breakage, but use only water-based lubricants, such as glycerine or lubricating jellies available at any pharmacy. NEVER use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion, or baby oil, which can weaken the condom.
- Withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom firmly to the base of the penis to keep it from slipping off.
- Condom users should make sure that the condom expiration date has not passed or the manufacturing date does not indicate the condom is too old (if the package is not opened, condoms are good up to 5 years after the manufacture date).
Condoms Users Have Plenty of Options
There are several types of condoms. Nearly all types offer protection against HIV and other STDs.
Condoms that Offer Protection From HIV & STDs
Condoms That Offer No Protection from HIV & STDs
- Lambskin condoms
These condoms are made from animal membranes that contain tiny holes. While they can prevent pregnancy, they should not be used for STD or HIV prevention because viruses may be able to pass through these holes.
- Novelty Condoms
Novelty (play) condoms are for sexual amusement only. The FDA does not allow them to be labeled as condoms, and they should never be used for STD/HIV or pregnancy prevention.
Use Oral Protection
Even though their risk is less than with unprotected anal and vaginal sex, people who engage in oral sex can reduce their risk of getting HIV or another STD by placing a barrier over the vagina or anus. In addition to the male condom, a product designed to reduce the risk of acquiring an STD during oral sex is now being sold in the United States. The Sheer Glyde Dam is a 10" x 6" latex sheet that the FDA has authorized for marketing in the United States. Plastic food wrap, dental dams (pieces of latex used by dentists), and condoms that have been cut open all have been used to cover the vagina or anus during oral sex, although there is no information about how well these materials work.
Making a Dental Dam
Performing Safer Oral Sex
Important Spermicide Warning!
Although studies indicate that nonoxynol-9, a spermicide, kills HIV in laboratory testing, it has been proven that nonoxynol-9 actually increases the risk of transmission of STD's including HIV. In fact, there has been a recent push to ban the substance all together. Therefore, latex condoms with nonoxynol-9 should not be used.