It can be difficult to talk about using condoms. But you shouldn’t let embarrassment become a health risk. The person you are thinking about having sex with may not agree at first when you say that you want to use a condom when you have sex.

  1. Condoms are the only contraceptive that also helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s) including HIV when used properly and consistently.
  2. Condoms are one of the most reliable methods of birth control when use properly and consistently.
  3. Condoms have none of the medical side-effects of some other birth control methods may have.
  4. Condoms are available in various shapes, colors, flavors, textures and sizes – to increase the fun of making love with condoms.
  5. Condoms are widely available in pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores. You don’t need a prescription or have to visit a doctor.
  6. Condoms make sex less messy.
  7. Condoms are user friendly. With a little practice, they can also add confidence to the enjoyment of sex.
  8. Condoms are only needed when you are having sex unlike some other contraceptives which require you to take or have them all of the time.

Condoms are usually made of latex or polyurethane. If possible you should use a latex condom, as they are slightly more reliable. There is also a lambskin condom available but it will only prevent pregnancy; not STD’s

  • Baby oil
  • Cooking oil
  • Massage oil
  • Body lotion
  • Bath oil
  • Hand cream
  • Suntan oil
  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
  • Hair conditioner

The packet should tell you whether a lubricant is water-based or not. If you are unsure, ask the pharmacist or family planning clinic. So choose a water-based lubricant, such as KY Gel, Sylk, Boots Lubricating Jelly, and Durex Play lubricant, Senselle or Replens. There is now a silicone-based lube out as well for extra lubrication.

Condoms come in a variety of shapes. Most have a reservoir tip although some do have a plain tip. Condoms may be regular shaped (with straight sides), form fit (indented below the head of the penis), or they may be flared (wider over the head of the penis).

Ribbed condoms are textured with ribs or bumps, which can increase sensation for both partners. Condoms also come in a variety of colors.

It’s up to you which shape you choose. All of the differences in shape are designed to suit different personal preferences and enhance pleasure. It is important to communicate with your partner to be sure that you are using condoms that satisfy both of you.

Some condoms are flavored to make oral sex more enjoyable. They are also safe to use for penetrative sex as long as they have been tested and approved.

Condoms are made in different lengths and widths, and different manufacturers produce varying sizes.

There is no standard length for condoms, though those made from natural rubber will in addition always stretch if necessary to fit the length of the man’s erect penis.

The width of a condom can also vary. Some condoms have a slightly smaller width to give a “closer” fit, whereas others will be slightly larger. Condom makers have realized that different lengths and widths are needed and are increasingly broadening their range of sizes.


Female Condom The female condom is a polyurethane sheath or pouch about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length. It is worn by a woman during sex. It entirely lines the vagina and it helps to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) including HIV.

Click here to view instructions on how to use a female condom.

Some people find that sex is more enjoyable for themselves and their partner if they use a lubricant. Condom manufacturers admit that the lubrication they put on the condoms may not be enough, but adding more would make packaging difficult. Lubricants are especially useful if your partner has vaginal dryness, and will also help prevent wear and tear on the condom. Smear the lubricant on the outside of the condom after you have put the condom on. Don’t just use any old thing as a lubricant. Most condoms are made of latex rubber, and oils can cause latex to break down, reducing the strength of the condom by up to 95% in 15 minutes.