When you use condoms correctly every time you have penis-in-vagina sex, there’s very little chance of pregnancy — but it’s still possible. No method of birth control is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. The good news is there are things you can do to help get the most protection possible from your condoms.
First, you’ve got to use condoms correctly. Not using condoms the right way can make it easier for sperm to get inside the vagina, and that puts you at greater risk for pregnancy. And it’s important to use condoms every single time you have penis-in-vagina sex, from start to finish. If you only use condoms sometimes, or put them on halfway through sex, they won’t work as well.
You can also add extra lube to the inside of the condom before you roll it on, and on the outside of the condom once it’s on the penis. Lube helps keep condoms from breaking or pulling off during sex. Bonus: lube can make condoms and sex feel better. Just make sure you use a lube that’s compatible with your condom. Most of the time, water-based and silicone lube are your best bet.
Keeping condoms around — like in your nightstand, bag, or bathroom — helps you always have them when you need them, so you don’t forget to use a condom or decide not to use one because you don’t have it nearby. Remember: pregnancy can happen even if you only have unprotected sex once, so it’s important to do everything you can to make sure you use condoms.
If your condom does break or you don’t use one, there’s still something you can do to prevent pregnancy: Emergency contraception (like the morning-after pill) can help prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days AFTER unprotected sex. Learn more about emergency contraception.
Even if you’re a condom superstar and do everything right every time you have sex, there’s still a very small chance that pregnancy could happen. So if you’re really worried about pregnancy, you can use another method of birth control along with your condoms — like withdrawal (pulling out) or the pill — to be super safe. You can also look into the most effective forms of birth control: the implant and IUDs.