• According to the CDC, male condoms are 85-98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Source:
  • Use of latex condoms during sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral) can greatly reduce a person’s risk of acquiring or transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Condoms provide a physical barrier against the transmission of bacteria and viruses.
  • Spermicide should be avoided when using condoms.
  • The main ingredient in spermicide is nonoxynol-9 which does not make condoms any more effective in preventing pregnancy or infection.
  • Use of nonoxynol-9 actually increases likelihood of STI transmission by causing micro lacerations in mucus membranes.

Proper Use

  • Before any sex act, be sure to give and get sober, verbal consent.
  • Store condoms in a cool place, out of direct sunlight (not in wallets or glove compartments).
  • Check the expiration date.
  • Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Use the condom throughout sex from start to finish.
  • For effective STI protection, make sure the condom is latex or polyurethane rather than natural skin condoms.
  • Carefully open the package—teeth or fingernails can tear the condom. Put on the condom after the penis is erect and before it touches any part of a partner’s body.
  • Make sure the condom is not on backwards. If the condom is on the penis and then you realize the condom is on backwards, discard and use a new condom.
  • Pinch the reservoir tip and unroll it all the way down the shaft of the penis from head to base.
  • Adequate lubrication is important to prevent condom breakage. Water-based and silicone-based lubricants are both latex safe. DO NOT use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion, or baby oil which can cause condoms to break.
  • Withdraw the penis immediately after ejaculation. While the penis is still erect, grasp the rim of the condom between the fingers and slowly withdraw the penis (with the condom still on) so that no semen is spilled.
  • Discard the condom in the trash.


  • Condoms are free at the University Health Center’s Pharmacy, Health Promotion Department, Lab, and in medical clinic exam rooms.
  • There is a huge variety of condoms available online, in grocery stores, super stores, and drug stores.
  • You don’t need a prescription to buy them.
  • There are no side effects from using condoms. If an individual has an allergy to latex, polyurethane condoms may be used.
  • Polyurethane condoms have been shown to be just as effective as latex condoms in providing a barrier against sperm and STIs.
  • The pressure of the rolled rim of the condom can help maintain an erection and prolong sexual activity.


  • Myth #1: Condoms frequently break.
    • Several studies show that condom breakage rates in the U.S. are less than 2%.
    • Most of the breakage and slippage is due to incorrect use rather than poor condom quality.
    • Using oil based lubricants can weaken latex, causing the condom to break.
    • Not enough lubrication is also a factor.
    • Condoms can be weakened by exposure to heat, or by age, or teeth or fingernails can tear them.

  • Myth #2: HIV can pass through condoms.

    • A commonly held misperception is that latex condoms contain “holes” that allow passage of HIV.
    • Laboratory studies show that intact latex condoms provide a continuous barrier to microorganisms, including HIV, as well as sperm.

  • Myth #3: Condoms decrease physical sensation.

    • Condoms can actually increase physical sensation.
    • The pressure of the rolled rim of the condom can help maintain an erection and prolong sexual activity.
    • Many people find that using condoms can be part of the fun, it doesn’t have to be an interruption.
    • Most condoms cause very little loss of sensitivity.

  • Myth #4: Condoms are 100% effective.

    • Condoms don’t protect equally against all STIs.
    • Consistent condom use is close to 100% protection against HIV.
    • But some STIs, such as genital herpes and human papilloma virus (HPV), can be spread through skin-to-skin contact.
    • Because condoms do not cover the entire genital area, these STIs can be transmitted even with condom use.

For more information, call the Health Promotion Department of the University Health Center, 706-542-8690.

Sexual Health Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Contraception