External-use condom

  • Easy to use
  • Available in different shapes, sizes and flavours
  • Suitable for unplanned sex - no preparation
  • Easy to carry around
  • There are latex free options for those with a latex allergy

Condoms are the only contraceptive method that protect against both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. External condoms are made of latex and non-latex and internal condoms are mad of nitrile or latex. They provide a barrier to the ejaculate (come), pre-ejaculate (pre-come) and to vaginal or anal secretions. Condoms can be used to prevent pregnancy when used alone and when used with another method of contraception. Both types of condoms can be used for prevention of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. External condoms are most used.

The external-use condom is a sheath or covering that is worn over the penis during sex. They are designed to stop a semen from coming into contact with a sexual partner. They can be used for penetrative sex with a vagina or anus and for oral sex. They can prevent pregnancy, provide protection against STIs and can also be used on sex toys.

Each condom can only be used once, so protection only lasts as long as the condom is intact and worn on the penis. If using with sex toys, a new condom should be used per person.

To prevent pregnancy the condom must stop any sperm from reaching the vagina. Small amounts of sperm are released from the penis before ejaculation, so for condoms to be effective they must be used during any contact between the penis and vagina. Putting on the condom late or removing the condom during sex will result in much higher risk of pregnancy.

To order free condoms by post, click here, or collect these from reception at any axess clinic.

Last for
1 use
Effect on

Condoms are a good method of contraception if you remember to keep them with you when you think you are going to have sex. You should also be confident about putting them on or asking your partner to put one on.

  • The penis touches the area around the vagina before a condom is put on
  • The condom splits or comes off (using wrong size)
  • The condom gets damaged by sharp fingernails or jewellery
  • You use oil-based lubricants (such as lotion, baby oil or petroleum jelly) with latex condoms – this damages the condom
  • You are using medication for conditions like thrush, such as creams, pessaries or suppositories – this can damage latex condoms.


Will I be asked for ID when buying condoms?

No. There are no restrictions on buying condoms, or on getting free and confidential advice about using condoms or other contraception.

Do I need to use lubricant?

When using lubricant with latex condoms, a water- or silicone-based lubricant is recommended.

Routine use of additional lubricant for vaginal sex is not required but can be used if preferred, or for those experiencing condom breakage.

The use of lubricant is recommended for anal sex to reduce the risk of condom breakage.

The use of condoms lubricated with spermicide is not recommended.

Lubricant to the inside of condoms or to the outside of the penis before using condoms is not recommended as this increases the chance of condom slipping off

Why do condoms break or slip off?

Condoms breaking or slipping can often be because they do not fit properly. There are different shapes and sizes of condoms available. Condom breakage is the same for standard and thicker condoms so there is no need to use thicker condoms for anal sex. Lubricant to the inside of condoms or to the outside of the penis before using condoms is not recommended as this increases the chance of condom slipping off.

What should I do if a condom breaks or slips off?

If a condom breaks or slips off, it may be necessary to take emergency contraception, post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure to HIV (PEPSE) , and / or STI testing. This should be discussed with a health professional as soon as possible after the unprotected sex.

The non-hormonal coil (IUD) can be used as emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex. Depending on the type of pill, you need to take an emergency contraceptive pill up to 72 hours (three days) or up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, or 120 hours (five days) after ovulation.