When the time feels right to have sex make sure you are prepared and think about STI’s and pregnancy risk.

Remember to use contraception every time to prevent pregnancy. Click here for more options.

Condoms are simple to use and are the only form of contraception that offer protection against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), if used correctly.

Short video about what you need to know about condoms:

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There are 2 types of condom- male and female.

Male condoms

These come in many varieties: latex, polyurethane, ribbed, flavoured, and sensitive, as well as different sizes.

Male condoms used perfectly, according to the instructions are 98% effective, but in reality are 85% effective with typical use.

Most are available FREE from the Choices clinic and the Orchard Centre or to purchase from pharmacies.

More information about male condoms

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  • They may give some protection to both partners from sexually transmitted infections.
  • They are readily available
  • They come in different shapes and sizes to suit everybody.
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  • Some people may experience an allergy to the latex.
  • Putting them on can interrupt sex
  • The condom can slip off or split.
  • The condom can be damaged by sharp fingernails or jewellery.
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Female Condoms

The female condom is called the Femidom. It is made of polyurethane. It is put into the vagina prior to sex.

If used correctly according to instructions it is 95% effective.

Female condoms are available free from Choices and through selected chemists at a cost.

More information about female condoms

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  • Prevents pregnancy
  • May give some protection from sexually transmitted infections
  • Ideal for those who are allergic to latex.
  • Can be used with different creams and oil based lubricants.
  • Can be put in any time before sex.
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  • The penis must enter the condom and not go between the vagina and the condom.
  • The open end must stay outside the vagina during intercourse
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  • Whatever condom you choose always make sure there is a BSI kitemark or European CE mark on the packaging. This denotes they have been tested to a high standard of safety.
  • Always make sure your condoms are within the expiry date shown on the packet.
  • Read the instructions beforehand DO NOT wait until you are about to have sex before rolling on a condom for the first time. Practise until you can do it in the dark!

Warning! Do Not use oil based products with latex condoms. Some medications used in the genital area e.g. creams, or pessaries will affect the latex. Check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Occasionally the condom can fail (split or fall off) during sexual intercourse. If this happens emergency contraception is available to women to help reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Do Not Delay!

Emergency contraception is available through the Choices clinic or your family doctor. It is important that the woman seeks advice following a condom failure as soon as possible. The emergency contraceptive pill is more effective the sooner it is taken following an accident and the Copper IUD is the most effective option.

STI Risk– If there is a condom failure you are at risk of passing on or picking up an STI. Both males and females can get advice from Choices, the Orchard Centre or from your own doctor.