Remember health services are confidential your parents will not be told unless you want them to be. Doctors, nurses and other professionals such as youth workers are not allowed to give out information about you without your consent unless they think you or another person is in serious danger. In these cases, they would try to discuss it with you first.


Click on the Question to get the answer:
Why are condoms important?
What is a male condom?
What is a female condom?
Where do I get condoms from?
How to use a male and female condom
What do I do if the condom breaks or slips off?
Carrying condoms
I’m too embarrassed to talk to my partner about condoms.


Why are condoms important?

They are the only type of contraception that will protect you from a pregnancy and most Sexually Transmitted Infection's (STI). If you use another form of contraception such as the pill you should use a condom as well.

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What is a male condom?

A condom is a thin rubber balloon that fits over the penis when it’s erect. It prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from entering the vagina.  They are 99% effective (that means 99 out of 100 people using a condom will not get pregnant) if used correctly.


  •  They are easy to use
  •  They protect you against most STI’s and pregnancy


  •  Some people say that it reduces the pleasure they get from sex
  •  There is a risk that the condom will not work if it is not used properly.  
  •  You can't use oil based lubricant, such as vaseline or babyoil with them

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What is a female condom?

Female condoms are like male condoms except they fit inside the vagina instead of covering the penis, that's why they are wider. They are 95% effective in preventing pregnancy if used correctly.


  • They protect against pregnancy and most STI's
  • Can be put in anytime before sex
  • You can use oil-based lubricant, such as baby oil or Vaseline with a female condom


  • If you are not careful the man's penis can enter between the condom and the vagina so you must make sure the open end of the condom stays outside the vagina.

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Where do I get them from?

If you are aged between 13 – 25 you can get male and female condoms free from the C-Card.  The Integrated Sexual Health Service will give out free condoms to you whatever your age.

You can buy condoms from a chemist, vending machine, supermarket and other shops.  Condoms that don't have the CE mark won't meet quality standards, so don't use them.

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Using a male condom

You or your partner can roll the condom onto the penis. Some couples do it together as an enjoyable part of sex.  

  1. When the penis is hard, and before there's any genital contact, carefully take the condom out of the packet. Be careful with sharp jewellery or fingernails that might tear the condom.
  2. If the penis has a foreskin, gently roll it back before putting on the condom.
  3. Before you put the condom on the penis, unroll the condom a little bit to check that it’s the right way round and will unroll properly.
  4. Squeeze the tip of the condom to get rid of any air, then place it over the tip of the penis.
  5. Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis. If it won’t roll down it’s the wrong way round. Throw this condom away and start again with a new one because there could be semen or pre-cum on the tip of the previous condom.
  6. If you’re using lubricant, make sure that it’s water-based. Oil-based lubricant (such as lotion, baby oil and lipstick) can damage male condoms.
  7. Check during sex that the condom hasn’t slipped off (you should be able to feel it with your fingers at the base of the penis).
  8. After sex, withdraw carefully while the penis is still hard. Hold the base of the condom to stop it coming off and to prevent any sperm from leaking.
  9. Wrap the condom in a tissue and put in the bin. Don't put it down the toilet because this can cause blockages.
  10. Condoms don't last forever. Change the condom after 30 minutes of sex because friction can weaken the condom, which makes it more likely to break or fail.

How to use a female condom

  1. Take the female condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear the condom – do not open the packet with your teeth.
  2. Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and insert it into the vagina.
  3. Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening.
  4. Make sure the penis enters into the female condom, not between the condom and the side of the vagina.
  5. Remove the female condom immediately after sex by gently pulling it out – you can twist the large ring to prevent semen leaking out.
  6. Throw the condom away in a bin, not down the toilet

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If a condom breaks or slips off

A new one should be put on. If the condom breaks and you are worried about an unplanned pregnancy you need to use the morning after pill, this can be taken up to 3 days (72 hours) after the time you had unprotected sex.  The sooner it is taken the more likely it is to stop an unwanted pregnancy.

You can get the morning after pill from:

  • An ASC chemist free to under 25s
  • Integrated Sexual Health Services - free to anyone of any age
  • Chemists for about £26

If it is more than 3 days after the condom broke go to the Integrated Sexual Health Service for advice, don't leave it to chance that you won't get pregnant, there are other options that can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

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Carrying condoms

Many young people say they didn't use a condom because they didn't have one with them – make sure you are prepared and carry one with you. They can be carried in bags, purses and wallets but make sure you check them regularly as they might be damaged or the use by date might have run out.

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I’m too embarrassed to talk to my partner about condoms.

Explain why it's important to you to use a condom, that it protects you from pregnancy or an STI.  Tell your partner if you are embarrassed to talk about contraception but also say that you feel that you both need to be prepared.  Tell your partner you won't have sex without using a condom and why.  Before you talk to your partner think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.

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