What should I know about condoms?

  • Condoms can be used to protect against STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in oral, anal, and vaginal sex
  • Find condoms that fit you well (condoms come in different sizes, and size varies among brands) – condoms that are too small or too large are more likely to break or slip off
  • Use non-latex condoms if latex causes an allergic reaction (which may be itching, burning or breaking out in a rash)
  • Make sure that condom is lubricated throughout intercourse– if it is not well lubricated, it is more likely to break
    • Use a lubricant that is compatible with the condom you are using – certain types of lubricants weaken certain types of condoms
    • Never use oil-based lubricants (including lotion, petroleum jelly, and cooking oil) with latex or polyisoprene condoms
  • Condoms can’t be reused, so use a new condom for every sexual act
  • Use only one condom at a time – don’t “double bag” it
  • Keep unused condoms in a dry, dark place at room temperature – extreme temperatures, sunlight, and humidity can weaken condoms
  • Don’t use a condom after the expiration date (printed on the condom) has passed – old condoms can be dry, brittle, or weakened and can break more easily
  • If a condom is stiff, sticky, damaged, or an unusual color, throw it out (even if the expiration date has not passed)
Condom Protects from STIs Lubricants to use Cost More
Latex Yes
  • Water-based
  • Silicone-based
Least expensive Most common
Polyisoprene Yes
  • Water-based
  • Silicone-based
More expensive than latex condoms Thicker and more elastic (stretchy) than polyurethane
Polyurethane Yes
  • Water-based
  • Silicone-based
  • Oil-based
Most expensive
  • Thinner and less elastic than latex condoms, so more likely to break or slip off
  • Made from a heat-sensitive material that warms up during sex, which some think feels more natural
  • Can make a crinkling noise during intercourse, which can be lessened by adding more lubricant.
Lambskin No, only protects against pregnancy
  • Water-based
  • Silicone-based
More expensive than latex condoms
  • Transmit body heat well, so some say that they feel more natural
  • Biodegradable
Nitrile Yes
  • Water-based
  • Silicone-based
  • Oil-based
Less expensive than polyurethane condoms
  • Only used to make female condoms
  • Made from a heat-sensitive material that warms up during sex, which some think feels more natural
  • Can make a crinkling noise during intercourse, which can be lessened by adding more lubricant.