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Birth Control Health Center

Sexual Health, Birth Control, and Condoms

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What Causes Condoms to Come Off During Sex?

A condom may come off during sex because:

  • It's too large. Try a snug condom.
  • Loss of erection. Remove your penis, holding on to the rolled edge of the condom, as soon as you begin to lose your erection.

Where Can I Get Male Condoms?

Condoms can be purchased at most drug stores. Condoms also are sold in some vending machines in public restrooms.

How Effective Are Male Condoms for Birth Control?

Condoms are about 82% effective for birth control. With careful use, they are even more effective. Keep in mind that the best way to avoid getting pregnant is to not have sex (abstinence).

How Do Male Condoms Prevent STDs?

Latex condoms provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases by preventing the infected area from coming into contact with the partner. Polyurethane condoms provide some protection, although not as much as latex. Natural or lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs because they have larger holes or "pores" that allow the small particles that can cause some STDs to pass through. Many STDs -- including HSV, which causes herpes, and HPV or the human papillomavirus, which is the most common sexually transmitted infection -- can be transmitted from areas not covered by a condom.

Should Foam be Used With Male Condoms?

Contraceptive foam can offer added protection against pregnancy in case a condom breaks. Use of spermicides can irritate the genital tissues and may increase the risk of STDs, including HIV/AIDS.

How Effective Are Foam and Male Condoms?

When used together and properly, foam and condoms are about 97% effective in preventing pregnancy.

What Is a Female Condom?

The female condom is a lubricated polyurethane (plastic) tube that has a flexible ring at each end. One end of the tube is closed.

How Is the Female Condom Used?

Before sexual activity begins, the woman inserts the condom into her vagina so that the closed end of the tube covers the cervix, and the other end slightly covers the labia (lips on the outside of the vagina). The condom blocks sperm from entering the womb. Female condoms should be discarded after one use.

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