Key points about condoms
- Condoms (pūkoro ure) are used to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from passing between people during sex.
- They also help protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
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Condoms are a form of contraception (birth control). They are suitable for almost everyone. There are 2 types of condoms: external and internal.
When used correctly and every time, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that among couples who use condoms perfectly for 1 year, only 2 out of 100 will become pregnant.
Correct or perfect use of condoms involves:
Condoms have a failure rate of about 18%. This means that, among all couples who use condoms, about 18 out of 100 become pregnant in 1 year. The most common reasons for condom failure are:
Slipping off happens more often than breaking, usually when a condom is too large and when lubricant is put inside the condom or on the penis before putting on a condom.
Condoms significantly reduce the chance of you catching or spreading HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Condoms also reduce the chance of syphilis, herpes and genital wart virus infection. However, they don’t give 100% protection because sometimes skin not covered by condoms can be infected with these viruses.
For the best protection, use condoms during vaginal, oral, anal sex and when sharing sex toys (put a fresh one on before you start and whenever you switch who’s using it).
✔ Reduce the chance of catching and spreading STIs.
✘ Both partners must be prepared to use one every time they have sex.
Using an extra method of contraception is a good back-up measure in case a condom slips or breaks. If a condom does slip or break and you are using no other method of contraception, you can use emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy.
It's important to use condoms correctly to stop them from slipping or breaking and so they work well to prevent pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will be able to teach you how to use them correctly and give advice if you have any problems.
Use a new condom each time you have sex and follow these steps:
Lubrication makes it easy to slide in and out during sex. If there is not enough lubrication, the condom is much more likely to break. All subsidised condoms available in Aotearoa New Zealand come pre-lubricated but you may need to use extra, particularly for anal sex or if you have had problems with irritation or condoms breaking in the past.
Spermicides are no longer recommended for use with condoms as they can irritate sensitive skin and increase the risk of getting an STI.
If your main concern is pregnancy go to a Family Planning clinic, your doctor or a pharmacy for emergency contraception within 72 hours. If you are worried about STIs talk to a healthcare provider.
If you think your condom has broken before ejaculation (coming), stop and put on a new condom.
External condoms can be bought from Family Planning clinics, supermarkets, pharmacies, pubs, public toilets, garages, nightclubs, dairies, sex shops and online.
Internal condoms can be bought from a range of retailers such as the Family Planning NZ online shop(external link)(external link). However, there is no subsidy.
The following links provide further information about condoms.
Condoms(external link)(external link) NZ Family Planning
Internal condoms(external link)(external link) NZ Family Planning
Barrier methods(external link)(external link) NZ Family Planning
Safer sex and condoms(external link)(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ
Just the facts about condoms(external link)(external link) Just the Facts, NZ
Condoms + lube(external link)(external link) NZ AIDS Foundation
Condoms and STIs(external link)(external link) Family Planning, NZ, 2020
Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.
Reviewed by: Dr Alice Miller, FRNZCGP, Wellington
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