Condom icon


  • 85% effective
  • Put it on before sex
  • No prescription required
  • Protects against STIs/STDs
  • No hormones
  • Inexpensive


What is it?
  • A condom is a thin, stretchy pouch, commonly made of latex, that’s worn over the penis during sex to prevent pregnancy.

  • Condoms help protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV.

  • If used perfectly, condoms are 98% effective. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, condoms are 85% effective.*  
  • A condom catches sperm. It creates a barrier so sperm can’t reach an egg. 

  • A condom also prevents STIs/STDs, including HIV. By covering the penis, it limits contact with a partner’s bodily fluids. It also limits skin-to-skin contact, which is how many infections spread.
  • You can get condoms at most pharmacies, drugstores, markets, and gas stations. 

  • You don’t need a prescription for condoms.

  • There are no age restrictions on who can buy condoms.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
  • Roll a condom on an erect penis before you have sex.

  • Pinch the tip of the condom to leave space for sperm to collect, and roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis.

  • After sex, pull the penis out of the partner while holding onto the base of the condom so sperm doesn’t spill out.

  • Remove the condom and throw it in the garbage. Don’t flush it down the toilet.

  • Wear the condom the entire time you have sex — from start to finish. This will protect you from STIs/STDs.

  • Do not use the same condom more than once.
  • Latex condoms prevent the spread of STIs/STDs. 

  • If you or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms, which also prevent the spread of STIs/STDs.

  • Condoms are affordable.

  • Condoms are easy to put on.

  • You don’t need a prescription, and they are easy to get in stores.

  • Condoms are hormone-free.

  • Condoms are temporary. You can stop using them whenever you want to try getting pregnant.

  • Condoms can be used while you’re breastfeeding.

  • If you follow instructions for condoms and use them every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, you have a high chance of preventing pregnancy, and not getting or spreading STIs.
  • Condoms can take time to get used to.

  • Condoms are one-use only. 

  • You need to put on a condom before there’s any skin-to-skin genital or oral contact. They don’t work as well if you put them on during sex.

  • You need to use them correctly every time.

  • Condoms made of lambskin or other animal membranes don’t protect against STIs/STDs. They only protect against pregnancy.


We're here to help

Get advice icon

Get advice

Call us 24/7 to talk with a licensed care provider about birth control questions or concerns.

Call us

Email icon

Email questions

Message your provider's office with any birth control questions or concerns.

Send a message

Cellphone icon

Make an appointment

Come in and talk with a provider about low- or no-cost birth control.

Schedule an appointment


© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

*“Condom,” Planned Parenthood,, accessed August 13, 2019.