External Condom

Male condoms are a thin plastic skin placed over an erect penis prior to having sex.
External Condom
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Street names Condom, glove, skin, rubber
Medical names Male condom, penile condom
Effectiveness 82% ?
It lasts 1 single use
Fertility No contraceptive effect when condom is removed
Who can use it? People of all ages
Hormones Does not contain hormonal medication
Visibility Visible during sex
STIs Protects you and your sexual partners from most Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) ?
Side effects Some people can be allergic to the plastics used to make condoms
Cost $0.50—$2 per condom
Where to get it Supermarkets, pharmacies, service stations and some public toilet vending machines

How does it work?

Condoms work as a physical barrier between bodily fluids. Sperm is ejaculated into the condom so it doesn’t touch the vulva vagina or cervix. This prevents pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are transmitted through bodily fluids. External condoms can prevent STI’s during vaginal sex. They can also be used to cover sex toys or cut to make a dental dam. External condoms can only be used once.

What’s it like to use?

External condoms can be scented, coloured, textured and flavoured, and are available in various sizes. Condoms come in a packet that should be opened carefully to avoid damaging the condom. They should only be used before the expiry date listed on the packet. Condoms can feel slippery from the lubricant. They unroll in a way that allows them to be easily put on an erect penis.

A condom is placed over the penis only when erect (hard) with the opening ring at the base of the penis. When the penis ejaculates the semen is caught inside a small pocket at the tip of the condom. Pinch the tip of the condom when it goes on to leave space for the semen. After ejaculation, sex needs to stop or pause to take the condom off before the penis gets too soft and the condom falls off. Wrap it in a tissue and put it in the bin. It is important to wash your hands after removing a condom after ejaculation as sperm can be transferred to other parts of the body.

Vaginal condoms should not be used at the same time as external condoms, as using both can create friction, causing them to break.

Some people find it challenging to use penile condoms:

Challenge Cause Solution
Condom breakage Sharp finger nails or jewellery Be a bit careful or get the person with the smoothest fingernails to put it on. Take off any sharp jewellery.
Expired or out of date condom Always check the expiry or use by date.
Oil based lubricants Use water based lubricant. Do not use petroleum jelly, moisturising creams or massage oils.
Exposed to heat or light Keep them in a cool place which is easy to access.
Not removed soon enough after ejaculation (before the penis goes soft). Pause after ejaculation to remove the condom.
Condom slips A long period of sex or when changing sexual positions or activity Check the condom is still on properly or use a new condom when changing positions.
Difficulty in building or maintaining an erection Pause or stop having sex or change the condom and try again to build the erection.
Withdrawal Hold the condom at the base of the penis while the penis is removed from the vagina, anus or mouth.

Learn more about condoms and practice using them.

What if I forget about it?

Consider keeping a stack of external condoms in an accessible place and taking some with you when you travel.

If you have had unprotected penis in vagina (PIV) sex, you may need to consider emergency contraception and an STI check.

Who can use it?

Anyone can use a condom.

The external condom is a method that requires you and your sexual partner to pause to ensure it is fitted correctly. If pausing sex is undesirable, another contraceptive method may be more suitable.

Side effects

If condoms are your only contraceptive method keep in mind their effectiveness is lower than other contraceptive options. Consider using condoms to prevent STIs plus a more effective contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy.

Learn more about your reproductive organs and sexual health and hormonal contraceptives.

Some people are allergic to the latex plastic that particular condoms are made from or the lubricant that condoms are used with. Effects can include a burning sensation, a rash, or blisters in or around the vagina, vulva, penis or scrotum. These are also common to symptoms of many STIs. If you have any of these side effects visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor to discuss allergies and get checked for STIs at the same time. If you have a latex allergy you can usually get non-latex condoms at a pharmacy.

If at any point you feel that this contraceptive method is making you feel uncomfortable or unwell, get advice from a doctor or medical professional. If it is an emergency, call an ambulance on 000.

How and where to get it

To buy a condom you can be of any age and any gender. You don’t need a prescription.

External condoms can be purchased in supermarkets, pharmacies, service stations and in some toilets where there are vending machines.

The cost for each condom can be between 50 cents and $2, depending on where you buy them, which brand they are, and how many are in each box.

What if you change your mind

Try another contraceptive method. Visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor to discuss your contraceptive options.