Condoms

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Effective immediately, no hormones, and protects against STIs

Condoms are a thin, loose-fitting pouch or sheath that protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They create a barrier that stops semen and other body fluids from entering the vagina, rectum, or mouth. Types of condoms include external condoms and internal condoms. Condoms can be paired with another form of birth control for extra pregnancy protection.

External condoms and internal condoms are the only form of birth control that protect against STIs, including HIV. Dental dams can also prevent exposure to body fluids during oral sex to protect against STIs, including HIV, but are not a form of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

External Condoms

External condoms, or sometimes known as male condoms, are one of the most popular forms of birth control. They go over the penis to collect sperm and other body fluids to prevent pregnancy and STIs. There are a variety of different external condoms that come in different shapes, colors, flavors, and textures. Some even glow in the dark!

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Pros
  • Protects against STIs, including HIV
  • Cheap and easy to get
  • No prescription needed
  • May help sex last longer
  • Come in hundreds of shapes, colors, and sizes
  • Can be used with other birth control methods
  • Doesn’t affect your hormones
Cons
  • May cause an allergic reaction if you’re allergic to latex
  • Sensitivity to certain brands of lubricant
  • May reduce sensitivity during sex
  • Not reusable
  • Must use every time you have sex
  • Possible breakage

Types of External Condoms

Latex, plastic, or lambskin

Most external condoms are made from latex. If you are allergic to latex, plastic or lambskin condoms are great alternatives. For latex and plastic, it is best to use a water-based or silicone-based lube to prevent damage to the condom. Lambskin condoms are made from lamb intestines that helps prevent pregnancy only. Lambskin condoms do not protect against STIs since there are tiny openings that allow some body fluids to pass by.

Lubricated

Lubrication helps prevents pain and irritation during sex as well as preventing breakage. If you buy one without lubrication, you can add lube to make sex more comfortable. Make sure to use a water-based lube to prevent damage.

Spermicide

Lubricated with spermicide to kill sperm. It is okay to use for vaginal sex, but it’s not recommended for oral or anal sex. If you are sensitive to spermicide, it may cause some irritation or discomfort. External condoms also come in a variety of shapes, colors, flavors, and textures!

How to Use

Every time you have sex, check the date on the back of the condom and only use one at a time. Expired condoms or multiple condom use increases the chance of the condom breaking. They are not reusable, you will have to use a new one every time you have sex. Spermicide and lube can be used with external condoms. Make sure you use a water based lube to prevent damage to external condoms. External condoms can also be used with other birth control methods, such as birth control pills.

Effort

External condoms take effort and commitment. You have to use one EVERY time you have sex.

Effectiveness

External condoms are pretty effective, depending on how you use them. With perfect use, external condoms are 98% effective. But with typical use external condoms are about 82% effective. External condoms are more effective if you use them correctly every time you have sex. Do not use more than one external condom at one time. Using more than one external condom may lead to breakage. Expired external condoms are less effective and are more likely to break during sex. Oil-based lubes can damage external condoms that will make them less effective and break during sex.

Side Effects

There are no side effects, unless you have a latex allergy.

Pregnancy

You will be able to become pregnant as soon as you stop using external condoms. If you stop using external condoms and are not ready to become pregnant, use another method right away.

How to Get

External condoms do not require a prescription. They can be found at most drug stores, supermarkets, family planning clinics, and sometimes even bars and clubs.

Cost

External condoms are fairly cheap, but you may be able to get free external condoms from a family planning clinic near you.

Internal Condoms

Internal condoms, or sometimes known as female condoms, work the same way external condoms do, except that it’s placed inside the vagina or anus to collect sperm and other body fluids to prevent pregnancy and STIs. Internal condoms are a great option if you’re partner doesn’t want to wear an external condom and you can even leave them in up to 8 hours before you have sex!

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Pros
  • Protects against STIs, including HIV
  • Outer ring may stimulate your clitoris
  • No prescription needed
  • Can be used if you’re allergic to latex
  • Can be used with both oil-based and water-based lube
  • Stays in place even if your partner loses their erection
  • Can be placed up to 8 hours before sex
  • Doesn’t affect your hormones
  • Can be used with other birth control methods
Cons
  • May cause irritation
  • Sensitivity to certain brands of lubricant
  • May reduce sensitivity during sex
  • Not reusable
  • Must use every time you have sex
  • May take some time getting used to
  • Hard to find
  • More expensive than external condoms
  • Possible breakage

How to Use

Since internal condoms are made from a synthetic non-latex material called nitrile, you are able to use them even if you’re allergic to latex. You can even leave them in up to 8 hours before you have sex! But remember, you must use a new condom every time you have sex. Spermicide and lube may also be used with internal condoms. Internal condoms can be used with other birth control methods but not with external condoms. When using an internal condoms for anal sex, the inner ring can be removed after inserting and before anal sex.

Effort

Internal condoms take effort and commitment. You have to use one EVERY time. Internal condoms are easy to use, but it might take a bit of practice to get used to.

Effectiveness

Internal condoms are pretty effective, depending on how you use them. With perfect use, internal condoms are 95% effective. But with typical use internal condoms are about 79% effective. Internal condoms are more effective if you use them correctly every time you have sex. Do not use an internal condoms with an external condoms. This may lead to breakage. Spermicide increases effectiveness of internal condoms.

Side Effects

Usually none, but may cause some irritation to either you or your partner.

Pregnancy

You will be able to become pregnant as soon as you stop using internal condoms. If you stop using internal condoms and are not ready to become pregnant, use another method right away.

How to Get

Internal condoms don’t require a prescription. But they may be a little harder to find than external condoms. You can get internal condoms online or from a family planning clinic near you.

Cost

You may be able to get free or discounted internal condoms from a family planning clinic near you or by getting a prescription from your healthcare provider.


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