Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

FDA Label Proposal: Condoms Not Perfect

Latex Condoms Don't Always Prevent Pregnancy or Sexually Transmitted Diseases
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 11, 2005 -- The FDA is proposing that latex condom packaging carry labels noting that condoms don't provide perfect protection against pregnancy, HIV, or sexually transmitted diseases.

The proposals state that using latex condoms can reduce -- but not eliminate -- the risk of pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The proposals also address latex condoms containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. According to the FDA, that spermicide may irritate the vagina or rectum, which could increase the chances of contracting HIV from an HIV-infected partner.

In addition, the proposals note that condoms leave some male genital skin exposed, which could permit transmission of herpes or other STDs.

The proposals haven't been approved yet. A draft of the proposals is posted on the FDA's web site.

Expert's Perspective

Lawrence Friedman, MD, director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, spoke with WebMD about the proposed labeling and condom use.

"I think people realize that nothing is forever or always or 100%," Friedman tells WebMD. "It is true that condoms don't prevent fully all of the possible STDS or other germs that could be transmitted through sex."

Still, Friedman says he would "definitely recommend, with exclamation points and underlines, the use of condoms for vaginal, oral, and anal contact."

"Even with these few shortcomings, the condom still is important for reducing the chances of causing a pregnancy or having sexually transmitted infections and HIV," Friedman says.

Friedman says condoms must also be used stored and used properly, before the expiration date, to be effective.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result