Male condom use Q&A

Male condoms, sometimes referred to as a rubber or barrier method, prevent STIs (sexually transmitted infections) as well as unplanned pregnancy. Here are the answers to some common questions I’ve received around the male condom.

How do I store condoms?

Keep your condoms in a cool, dry place, away from heat and sunshine. It’s not a good idea to shove them in your wallet, where they can be crumpled and bent. Never place condoms in the back pocket of your pants, as sitting on condoms can also damage them.

Are condoms effective against HIV and STIs?

Condoms are 98% effective in protecting people from STIs/HIV, as well as an unplanned pregnancy- but only when used correctly. It’s best to use the dual method at all times for extra protection.

Are two condoms better than one to avoid pregnancy?

Using two condoms at the same time, either two male condoms or a male and female condom, is NOT a good idea as the friction may result in one or both condoms tearing. If you want to take extra precautions against pregnancy, use another form of contraceptive such as the pill, injection, or IUD in combination with a condom.

How do I check if a condom is good to use?

Check the expiration of the condom before you use it. Expiration dates should have a month and year. Expired condoms weaken over time, and can easily break.

Look at the condition of the packaging. There should be no tears or holes in the package. If there’s a hole in the wrapper, the condom may have dried out, which makes it ineffective because it can break. You can simply press on the wrapper to make sure that it hasn’t dried out.

Can I use lubricants?

Yes. Many condoms come already lubricated, but you can always add more. Just make sure the lubricant you use with a condom is water-based. Oil-based lubricants, like baby oil or petroleum jelly, can weaken the condom- causing it to break or slide off. Using oil-based lubricants can also cause infections, so use water-based lubricants instead.

Can I re-use a condom?

Re-using any condom is big no, Choma. A new condom should be used every time you have sex. Remember to wrap used condoms in toilet paper and throw them in the rubbish bin. Never flush them down the toilet.

Do condoms slip or burst frequently?

On average, about 2% of condoms break or slip off completely during sex- and this is because they’re used incorrectly. It’s important to learn the right way of using a condom to avoid the risk of it slipping or bursting.

What should you do if a condom slips or breaks during sex?

If a condom slips or breaks, taking emergency contraceptive pills can reduce the risk of pregnancy. If you suspect you were exposed to HIV, treatment with Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) can help reduce your HIV transmission risk if you take it within 72 hours after exposure. If you’re exposed to an STI, it’s important to get screened and start treatment immediately. Washing the penis or vagina after sex doesn’t help prevent unplanned pregnancy or STIs.

Can you get pregnant, even if the condom doesn’t break?

Even if the condom didn’t break, pregnancy is still possible. That’s because condoms don’t guarantee 100% protection.

All condoms provide protection against pregnancy and STIs, regardless of their shape, size, or flavour. Remember to wear them properly, never re-use them and dispose of them correctly. Feel free to try different types of condoms to find the one that works best for you.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).