What are the chances of getting pregnant with a condom?
Condoms work really well if you use them every time you have sex, the whole time you’re having sex. In a perfect world where people use condoms perfectly every time, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Pretty excellent, right? But let’s be real — people aren’t perfect.
So how well do they really work? The chances of getting pregnant with a condom depend on the type you use. Condoms that go on the penis work 82% of the time. This means 18 out of 100 people who use them as their only form of birth control will become pregnant each year.
Condoms that fit into the vagina (called FC2 female condoms) are 79% effective — 21 out of 100 people who use them as their only form of birth control will become pregnant each year.
Here are some things you can do to lower your chances of getting pregnant with a condom:
Use a condom every time you have sex. Put it in place before the penis goes in or near the vagina or anus.
Store condoms in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Throw out condoms that are expired, damaged, discolored, or brittle.
When you open the condom, tear the package towards the edge, carefully.
Use water-based or silicone lubricant for vaginal or anal sex. Avoid oils — they can make condoms break.
Throw the condom away when you’re done. If you have sex again, use a new one.
With a little practice, condoms are really easy to use. You or your partner may want to practice first so you can get the hang of how to put a condom on.
Sometimes you can get condoms for free at family planning centers, like your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.