THE EXTERNAL CONDOM
The old classic.
WRAP IT UP
The external condom (also known as the male condom) is a widely used method of birth control. It is a thin sheath made of latex or polyurethane that is rolled over the erect penis before sex. A reservoir in the tip of the condom catches the sperm, preventing it from reaching the womb and fertilizing an egg. It prevents a pregnancy from occurring, but also protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Just like the internal condom, it is hormone-free and doesn’t require additional birth control methods to work. But it is important to use a new condom each time you have sex.
External condoms are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials to suit everyone's tastes and sensitivities. Using them is simple – carefully remove the condom from its packaging, pinch the reservoir at the tip, and roll it over the erect penis. After you've had sex, carefully remove the condom – making sure nothing is spilled and there‘s no condom break – and throw it away. Many people prefer to use lubricant with condoms, and it's important to check which lubricant suits the condom's material. For example, oil-based lubricants will cause latex condoms to break more easily, so it pays to be careful.
HOW IT MEASURES UP
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio’s description of the condom appeared for the first time in history.
You should only ever use a single condom during sex, as more than one can cause friction and lead to breakage.
The percentage of HIV transmissions that are prevented by using external condoms.
- Protects against HIV and other STIs.2
- Only needs to be used when you want to have sex.2
- Not the most effective in preventing pregnancy with typical use.
- Can tear or split if not placed properly.2
- May interrupt sex – since it needs to be put over the erect penis, it can be a distraction during sex.2,3
- Forrai J, Orv Hetil, 1991; 132(48):2687-8. Return to content
- NHS. Condoms. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/male-condoms/ [Accessed September 2022]. Return to content
- American Pregnancy Association. Male Condoms. https://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/birth-control-pills-patches-and-devices/male-condom/ [Accessed September 2022]. Return to content