Condoms and Dental Dams

Straight to the Facts: Condoms

  • Only birth control which prevents pregnancy and STIs!

  • 5% failure rate with perfect use

    • 24% failure rate with typical use

  • Enhances the effectiveness of other birth control


  • Store in a cool, dry place

  • Do not use damaged or expired condoms

  • Do not use with oil-based lubricants

  • Do not use more than one at a time

How do I use a condom?


Condoms are easy to use. Just follow a few simple instructions.

  1. Check the packaging to make sure it is not expired. Do not use the condom if it is expired.

  2. Shake or rub your condom a little to distribute the lube and check that it is not damaged. If it is damaged, use a different condom.

  3. Carefully open it using your hands. Do not cut the package or use your teeth since this may damage it.

  4. Fifth, find the tip of the condom. The tip is to catch semen when you ejaculate. Pinch to remove air.

  5. Make sure the roll of the condom is coming up the outside of the condom, not the inside if you hold from the tip.

  6. Holding the tip between your fingers, place the condom on your erect penis and roll down the sides.

Condoms are small, thin pouches made of latex (rubber), plastic (polyurethane, nitrile, or polyisoprene) or lambskin that cover your penis during sex and collect semen. Condoms stop sperm from getting into the vagina, so sperm can not meet up with an egg and cause pregnancy. Condoms also prevent STI's by covering the penis, which prevents contact with semen and vaginal fluids, and limits skin-to-skin contact that can spread sexually transmitted infections. Lambskin condoms do not protect against STI's. Only latex and plastic condoms do.


male condoms.jpg

You can get condoms for free at the health department. Just come to the clinic and ask for the brown bag special.

Right and Wrong Male Condom

Remember, make sure you use water or silicone based lubes with your condoms. Do not use latex lube since it may dissolve your condom. When you are done, hold the base of the condom at the base of your penis. Do this while you are still erect. If you lose your erection, the condom can leak. Carefully remove the condom and throw it in the trash.

How effective are condoms?


Condoms are great at preventing both pregnancy and STI's. If you follow the instructions and use them every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, there is very little chance of pregnancy, or getting or giving an STI.

If you use condoms perfectly every single time you have sex, they are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, people are not perfect, so in real-life condoms are about 82% effective — that means about 18 out of 100 people who use condoms as their only birth control method will get pregnant each year. The better you are at using condoms correctly every time you have sex, the better they will work. But there is still a small chance that you will get pregnant even if you always use them the right way.

What about female condoms?


Right now in the US, there is only one female condom available: the FC2. Currently, the only way to get one is with a doctor's prescription or ordering from the FC2 website.

Female condoms offer protection against both STIs and pregnancy. A woman can insert an FC2 several hours before sex begins so she does not need to stop sexual activity to put one on. It is currently the only barrier method offering protection from STIs and pregnancy that a woman can use without explicit participation of her male partner.

Female condoms work about the same as male condoms. You use them by inserting them into a woman's vagina before sex and then carefully removing them after. If you'd like more information about female condoms, please visit the FC2 website.


STIs and Oral Sex


Many people do not know that STIs can spread during oral sex. All STIs can be spread during oral sex. For example, if you have cold sores, you have a form of the herpes virus called HSV1. If you have a cold sore and have oral sex, you can spread herpes to their genitals. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can also be spread through oral sex. Many people are not aware that you can have chlamydia and/or gonorrhea in your throat but not in your genitals. If you are one of those people, you can spread these infectious by giving oral sex to other people without using protection. You can prevent the spread of STIs during oral sex by always using protection like a condom or dental dam.


What is a dental dam?

A dental dam is a thin piece of latex or plastic that you place over a woman's genitals during oral sex. It helps prevent the spread of STIs by protecting both your mouth and her genitals. They come in many flavors and colors.

Where can I get a dental dam?


Dental dams can be hard to find. You can get them for free at the clinic at the health department. You can also make your own. Just cut the tip off a condom and then cut up the side. Avoid using things like saran wrap since it is may let viruses and bacteria through and expose you to STIs.

Can I use two condoms at the same time?

It is not a good idea to use more than one condom as it can cause the condom to break. Only use one condom at a time. Also, do not use a male and female condom at the same time since this can cause them to break as well.

I am allergic to condoms. What can I do?

You can use latex-free condoms. Look for polyisoprene or polyurethane. They work just as well and will protect you from STIs. Lambskin condoms will not protect you from STIs.

What kind of lube can I use with my condoms?

Avoid using cooking oil or coconut oil with your condoms since they can damage them or cause them to fail. Petroleum jelly and lotion are also bad because they can damage your condom and also hurt you. Look for water-based or silicone based lubricants and will not damage your condoms.

Do I need to use XL condoms?

Your condom should be pretty snug, but not painful. If your condom hurts, try a different brand or size. Avoid using a condom that is too big since it can fall off or leak. Most men do not need XL condoms.

Can I us condoms in the pool?

It is not a great idea to use condoms in the pool or hot tub. Chlorine in pools can damage your condom and the water can wash away lubricant making it easier to break your condom. 


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