Male condoms: know the facts

There are lots of myths about male condoms. Make sure you know the facts before you use one.

MYTH: You have to be 18 to buy condoms.
TRUTH:
Condoms are available at any age and free of charge from contraception clinics, Brook centres, sexual health (GUM) clinics, further education colleges and young people's clinics. These services also provide confidential advice.

Find a contraception clinic near you.

Find a sexual health clinic near you.

You can also buy condoms from pharmacies and other shops whatever age you are.

MYTH: It's safer if you use two condoms.
TRUTH: Using two condoms is not better than one as they are more likely to break. It's best to only use one at a time.

MYTH: Condoms break easily.
TRUTH: No they don't. You just need to put it on carefully and make sure there's no air bubble at the end. During sex, be careful of sharp nails, jewellery or teeth.

If the condom won't roll down, it's the wrong way round. Throw it away and use a new one.

Never try to turn a condom the other way round as there could already be semen on the tip (it's sometimes released before ejaculation).

If a condom breaks and you're not using any other contraception, go to a clinic, pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible and ask about emergency contraception.

You may also need to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This applies to boys having sex with girls and boys having sex with boys.

MYTH: Condoms are the only type of contraception I need to think about.
TRUTH: No they're not. Condoms can provide protection from STIs and unplanned pregnancy. But to get the best protection, it's better if you and your partner use a condom along with another form of contraception.

There are lots of different types of contraception, including the implant, injection, coil or the pill. It's worth exploring all your options.

MYTH: You need extra lube. Vaseline is good.
TRUTH: No it's not. A bit of extra lubrication is good but don't use anything with oil in it as it can dissolve the condom. That includes baby oil, Vaseline and hand cream. Lipstick has oil in it too.

Use a water-based lubricant, such as KY jelly or Durex Play, from a pharmacy or supermarket.

MYTH: Condoms make me less sensitive.
TRUTH: Using a condom doesn't have to spoil the moment. In fact, they can make some men last longer before they come, which is good news for both partners.

There are lots of different sizes, shapes, colours, textures and flavours of condoms, so enjoy finding the one that suits you both best.

MYTH: Condoms cut off my circulation.
TRUTH: No they don't. A condom can stretch to 18 inches round. There are lots of different shapes and sizes that you can try.

You can buy condoms at any age. You can also get them free from community contraception clinics, Brook centres and NHS sexual health clinics.

MYTH: My girlfriend is on the pill, so we don't need condoms.
TRUTH:
Yes you do. The pill doesn't protect you or your partner from STIs. Also, if your partner forgets to take a pill or has been vomiting, the effectiveness of the pill is lower and she could still get pregnant.

MYTH: If I ask to use a condom, my partner will think less of me.
TRUTH: Insisting that you use a condom suggests that you know how to take care of yourself and your partner.

MYTH: You don't need a condom if you're having oral sex.
TRUTH: Yes you do. You should use a condom for oral sex because infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes can be passed on this way.

MYTH: I don't need a condom – I only sleep with nice people.
TRUTH: STIs don't know or care if you're nice or not. The way someone looks can't tell you whether or not they have an STI. Lots of STIs don’t have any symptoms, so you could infect each other without even knowing it.

See more about sexually transmitted diseases.

MYTH: If it's a condom, it's safe.
TRUTH: Not necessarily – novelty condoms aren't always safe and nor are ones bought from online auction sites like eBay.

Always buy condoms from a reputable source. Choose ones that have the European CE or BSI kite mark. Also check that:

  • they are within their use-by date  
  • the seal isn't broken
  • they aren't damaged 

Get more condom tips.

Page last reviewed: 11/10/2016

Next review due: 11/10/2019

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