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‘How Effective Are Condoms?’ And Other Condom FAQs Answered by Flo

Condoms are a commonly used method for preventing unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, they are also used to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs). Despite their ubiquity, however, there are still some questions that pop up frequently regarding the condoms. Below, Tanya Tantry, medical expert at Flo, sheds some light on the matter.

What is a condom?

A condom is a type of barrier contraception that prevents the semen from being released into the reproductive tract of the woman. When properly used, the condom can be 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy as well as STIs. 

In reality, the effectiveness of condoms is about 82 percent to 90 percent. Condoms are cheap, available everywhere, safe, and effective birth control method. It is no wonder, therefore, that it is the most popular barrier method.

Are condoms still popular as a main contraception method?

Condoms, especially male condoms, are the most popular barrier method of contraception. It can be explained by their benefits. Condoms protect you from pregnancy as well as from sexually transmitted infections. 

They are cheap, effective, and are about 82 percent effective if used correctly. Additionally, they’re easy to wear and there are no side effects of using condoms except for an allergy to latex in some people.

How could I persuade my boyfriend to use a condom during sex without upsetting him?

There is a variety of contraception methods available nowadays. The male condom is the most popular among barrier methods. It effectively protects you from pregnancy and from STIs. It is cheap, easy to wear, safe and available almost everywhere. 

The only drawback is a possible allergy to latex. There is also a myth that condoms impair a penis' sensitivity but it is unfounded. In order to maintain the heightened pleasure levels, make the condom a part of foreplay and choose a condom type that is suitable for you and your partner.

My other half loses erection wearing a condom. What is the solution?

If your partner loses his erection when wearing a condom, try to make this process part of foreplay or put it on him yourself. Test various types and brands of condoms to find the one that will fit him best. If nothing helps, you will have to pick another contraception method.

There was no cum inside the condom after we had sex, but it looked intact. How could this happen?

There are several reasons as to why there was no cum inside the condom after sex. First of all, it could be that your partner didn't ejaculate or he ejaculated before wearing a condom. Secondly, it could be that cum leaked from the condom. It can happen if your partner left the condom on the penis after the erection went away, in this case, the penis becomes soft and the condom is loose and cum or precum can leak out. Also, cum can leak out through a tear or a hole in the condom.

A condom was left inside me after sex. Could I get pregnant?

If the condom was accidentally left inside you after your partner ejaculated in it, the semen could leak from the condom into your vagina and be viable inside you up to 5 days, and you could get pregnant. Besides, it is sometimes difficult to get the condom out of the vagina by yourself.  

To avoid such situations, your partner should pull out his sheathed erect penis as soon as he ejaculated, holding the condom at the base of the penis.

What size and brand of condoms to choose?

It absolutely doesn't matter what brand of condoms to choose. It is much more important to choose a proper size in order to prevent discomfort and the risk of leakage. To choose the size of a condom you need to know how big your partner's penis is. 

Then decide whether the standard size (length, width) or large size would fit. One more important thing you should know is whether you or your partner is allergic to latex. If any of you is, you need latex free condoms.

Can condoms cause vaginal infections?

Condoms do not cause infections. On the contrary, using condoms prevents you from getting sexually transmitted infections or STIs. If you feel discomfort, pain, burning or itching after using a condom for the first time, you may be allergic to latex. Make an appointment with your doctor to find out if it's really so.

Can I get pregnant if my partner first put the condom on backwards?

If your partner first puts the condom backwards, there is a chance for you to get pregnant from precum possibly left on the condom. This is more so if you are ovulating or about to ovulate. 

Precum or pre-ejaculate is the fluid that may or may not contain the active sperms (motile mature male germ cells). The chance is around 37 percent, which means that it's not impossible to conceive from precum even if it’s improbable.

Is it possible to get pregnant if the condom broke during sex, but a guy pulled off straight away?

There is still a chance to get pregnant if the condom broke during sex even if you used the pull-out or withdrawal method. During an intercourse fluid called precum is released and this is uncontrollable process. This precum can contain active sperms which can fertilize the egg when it happens before or during ovulation. 

Therefore, when a condom breaks, precum can leak into the vagina and you can get pregnant.

My boyfriend wants to have sex without a condom and makes me take a birth control pill. What should I do?

It is up to you two to decide what method of birth control to choose. However, you should take into account the fact that pills do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Besides, birth control pills are a hormonal method of contraception, which means it affects your hormone levels. 

Explain to your boyfriend that condoms are a safe, cheap, and effective method with no side effects. If he is worried that condoms can impair the penis' sensitivity and ruin pleasure, let him know that it is a myth. There many ways to make the process of wearing a condom a part of foreplay. And if the condom size is chosen correctly, it will not bring him any discomfort.

I feel pain when we use condoms. What could be the reason?

Sometimes you can feel some pain when using condoms. There may be different reasons for that. You may be sensitive or allergic to the material from which the condom is made for example latex, which will lead to vaginal dryness. You may feel pain due to lack of lubrication without any allergic reactions as a condom slowly loses its lubricant during sex and can make the vagina sore after some time.

We had sex, but the condom broke. I took a pill. Could I be pregnant?

Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) are a very effective method of protection from an unwanted pregnancy. If they are taken within 72 hours after sex, the chance to get pregnant is pretty low, from around 0.2 percent to 3 percent. Generally, the sooner you take the ECP after unprotected sex the lower your chances of getting pregnant.

I had sex without a condom but he didn’t cum. Can I still get pregnant?

Intercourse without contraception is unsafe. Even if your partner didn't cum, you can still get pregnant from his precum. Precum or pre-ejaculate is the fluid that may or may not contain the active sperms (motile mature male germ cells). 

There’s a 37 percent chance you can get pregnant from this precum. Usually, it is uncommon to conceive from precum but the risk increases especially if the woman is about to ovulate or is ovulating.

How can I have sex without my boyfriend wearing a condom?

There is a great variety of birth control methods. If using condoms doesn't fit you, you can choose any other barrier or hormonal method of contraception. However, keep in mind that every method has its advantages and disadvantages, its efficacy rate, its contraindications as well as price.

If you need a safe, effective, cheap, and ubiquitous birth control method which also protects from STIs, the condom is your best choice.

How effective are condoms? If you use a condom, do you also need birth control pills?

If you use a condom correctly and every time you have sex, you don't need any additional contraception as it is an effective method which gives you protection from pregnancy and STIs. On the contrary, when you are on birth control pills you may need to use a condom to get protection from STIs. This can come in handy if you have a new partner, for example.

Is it possible to get pregnant after the intercourse with a condom?

Using a condom is a very effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs. In fact, when a condom is used properly, it can be 98 percent effective in preventing conception. The real efficacy rate is around 82 percent to 90 percent. 

However, there is a small chance to get pregnant using a condom due to improper usage, and situations like tearing of the condom, leaks, and the condom with seminal fluid left inside the vagina. The chance to get pregnant using a condom varies from 10 percent to 18 percent.

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