External condoms

External condoms (sometimes called 'male condoms') are a highly effective form of contraception (preventing unintended pregnancy). Condoms are the only form of contraception that also help prevent sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

The external condom is a thin sheath that covers the erect penis and works by stopping sexual fluids (juices) from passing between people during sexual activity. They are made from latex or polyurethane. 

If condoms are used properly, they are 98% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancy.

Condoms should always be used with a water-based lubricant, like KY Jelly or Wet Stuff, on the outside of the condom. Use lots of lubricant, especially for anal sex. Don't use oil-based lubricants, like Vaseline or baby oil, as they weaken the condom. Don't use saliva either, as it dries too quickly and may contain an infection.

Things to consider

  • Condoms don't cost much, are small, and are easy to carry.
  • You don’t have to see a doctor to get a condom, you can buy them at chemists, supermarkets, petrol stations or order them online.
  • Condoms offer good protection against STIs and unplanned pregnancy, if used properly.
  • Condoms don't protect you from all STIs, such as herpes, genital warts and syphilis which can be spread from skin-to-skin contact.
  • Condoms cost roughly $1 each.
  • There are lots of places that offer free condoms


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