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Planned Parenthood is proud to participate in The Right Time, a statewide initiative to provide free and low-cost birth control to those who need it. Nearly all methods, including condoms, are available through The Right Time. Are condoms the right birth control method for you? Here's everything you need to know about condoms, including the different types of condoms and how to use condoms, to help you make your decision.

What are external condoms and internal condoms?

External condoms and internal condoms are barrier methods of birth control. They prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from entering the vagina and joining the egg. They are also the only method of birth control to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, by preventing contact with blood and sexual fluids and covering some skin. They can be used with vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

External condoms fit over a penis. They are made of latex, polyurethane, or animal tissue (lambskin). Of 100 women whose partners use condoms, about 15 will become pregnant in the first year of typical use. Some condoms are coated with spermicide.

Internal condoms fit into the vagina. They also cover part of the vulva. They are made of polyurethane or another type of plastic called nitrile. Of 100 women who use the internal condom, 21 will become pregnant in the first year.

The better you are about using condoms correctly every time you have sex, the better they’ll work. But there’s a small chance of pregnancy even if you always use them the right way every single time.

Should I use spermicide with condoms?

Spermicides contain a chemical that kills sperm and this can help prevent pregnancy. They include gels, creams, film, foam, sponges, and suppositories that are inserted into the vagina. Some condoms may contain spermicide.

Vaginal spermicides and condoms with spermicide are not recommended to prevent STIs. Nonoxynyl-9 is the active ingredient in most spermicides made in the U.S. Using it many times a day may irritate tissue in the vagina or anus. This can increase the risk of getting HIV or other STIs.

How do I use external condoms?

Before putting on the external condom:

  1. Store condoms in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight (wallets and glove compartments do not count).

  2. Check the expiration date before using.

  3. Tear the condom package carefully - without using your teeth - to open.

  4. If the condoms looks damaged, discolored, or brittle, do not use.

  5. Add a drop of lubricant inside the condom for extra pleasure, if you like.


To put on:

  1. Pull back the foreskin, unless circumcised, before rolling on the condom.

  2. Leave about a half-inch of space at the tip to collect semen.

  3. Pinch the air out of the tip with one hand while placing it on the penis.

  4. Unroll the condom over the penis with the other hand.

  5. Roll it all the way down the base of the penis.

  6. Smooth out any air bubbles to prevent breaks.

  7. Lubricate the outside of the condom with water-based lubricant only, if you like.


To take off:

  1. Pull the penis out before it softens

  2. Hold the condom against the base of the penis while you pull out.

  3. Tie the condom with a knot so the semen doesn’t spill

  4. Throw the condom away in the trash. DO NOT REUSE.

How do I use internal condoms?

To insert:

  1. Put lubricant on the outside of the closed end.

  2. Find a comfortable position, like standing with one foot on a chair, squatting or sitting on the edge of the chair.

  3. Squeeze together the sides of the inside ring (at the closed end of the condom) and put into the vagina, like you would a tampon.

  4. Push the inner ring into the vagina as far as it can go.

  5. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring hand about an inch outside the vagina.


To remove:

  1. Squeeze and twist the outer ring to keep semen inside the pouch.

  2. Gently pull it out of the vagina or anus.

  3. Tie off the condom with a knot so the semen doesn’t spill

  4. Throw it away in the trash

What else can I do to make external condoms or internal condoms work better?

  1. Use them every time you have sex.

  2. Put it in place before the penis, or mouth, goes in or near the vagina, or anus.

  3. Use water-based lubricants with vaginal and anal sex. This may increase sensitivity and help prevent tears. Oils such as baby oil and petroleum jelly can make condoms and dental dams break.

  4. Use a condom or dental dam only once.

  5. Do not “double up” (use two condoms, or external and internal condoms together) as this increases the risk of breakage.

  6. Read and follow the instructions that come with the condoms you use.

What should I do if the condom breaks or falls off?

Emergency contraception (EC) can reduce the risk of pregnancy when accidents happen. If the condom breaks or falls off during sex, consider taking EC. EC includes the insertion of a copper IUD and “morning after” pill(s). All work best when started as soon as possible and within five days of unprotected sex.

Tags: condoms, using condoms, male condoms, female condom

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