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

    Updated 19 January 2021 |
    Published 12 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Dr. Andrei Marhol, General practitioner, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania
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    Condoms are a commonly used method of contraception that can prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Despite their popularity, there are still some questions about condoms that pop up frequently. Below, Tanya Tantry, a medical expert at Flo, sheds some light on the matter.

    What is a condom?

    A condom is a type of barrier contraception. Condoms are most commonly used to prevent semen from being released into the female reproductive tract. With perfect use, condoms can be 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs

    But with typical use, the effectiveness of condoms is about 85 percent. Condoms are inexpensive, readily available, safe, and an effective birth control method.

    Are condoms still popular?

    Condoms, especially male condoms, are the most popular barrier method of contraception because they offer protection from unwanted pregnancy as well as from sexually transmitted infections. 

    They are inexpensive, effective, and about 98 percent effective if used correctly. Additionally, they’re easy to wear, and there are no side effects from using condoms, except for an allergy to latex in some people.

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

    There are a variety of contraception methods available nowadays. The male condom is the most popular among barrier methods. They protect you from pregnancy and from STIs with high effectiveness. They’re inexpensive, easy to wear, safe, and available almost everywhere. 

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

    Condoms make my partner lose their erection. What’s the solution?

    If your partner loses their erection when wearing a condom, try to make this process part of foreplay or put it on them yourself. Test various types and brands of condoms to find the one that fits best. If nothing helps, you might 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 why there wasn’t any cum inside the condom after sex. First of all, it could be that your partner didn’t ejaculate or they ejaculated before putting the condom on. It could also be that cum leaked from the condom. This can happen if your partner left the condom on their penis after their erection went away. When this happens, the penis becomes soft, the condom becomes loose, and cum or precum can leak out. Additionally, cum can leak out through a tear or a hole in the condom.

    A condom was left inside me after sex. Could I be 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 for up to five days. You could get pregnant from this, depending on when it happened in your cycle. 

    To avoid such situations, your partner should pull out their penis right after they ejaculate, while the penis is still erect, holding the condom at the base of the penis.

    How do I choose what size and brand of condoms to use?

    Condom brand is not nearly as important as condom size. Using a condom that’s the proper size can prevent discomfort and the risk of leaks and tears.

    It’s important to make sure both condom length and width is appropriate for whoever is using them. One more important thing you should know is whether you or your partner is allergic to latex. If so, you need latex-free condoms. Note that lambskin condoms only prevent pregnancy. They don’t prevent transmission of STIs.

    Can condoms cause vaginal infections?

    Condoms do not cause infections. On the contrary, using condoms can prevent sexually transmitted infections. 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 be sure.

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

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

    Precum or pre-ejaculate is fluid that may or may not contain active sperm. This means that it is possible to conceive from precum, even though it’s not likely.

    Is it possible to get pregnant if the condom broke during sex, but they pulled out 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 sex, fluid called precum is released. This is an uncontrollable process. Precum can contain active sperm that can fertilize an egg if it enters the female reproductive tract in the days before or during ovulation. 

    When a condom breaks, precum can leak into the vagina, which can result in pregnancy.

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

    It’s up to you to decide if you want to take hormonal birth control. However, you should take into account the fact that pills do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, because birth control pills are a hormonal method of contraception, they affect your hormone levels. 

    Explain to your boyfriend that condoms are a safe, inexpensive, and effective method with no side effects. If he is worried that condoms will decrease his sensations and ruin sex, let him know that’s a myth. There are many ways to make the process of wearing a condom a part of foreplay. And if the condom is the correct size, it won’t cause any discomfort.

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

    Sometimes you can feel some pain when using condoms. There are different things that can cause it. You may be sensitive or allergic to the material the condom is made of — for example, latex — which can lead to vaginal dryness. You may feel pain due to lack of lubrication as the condom slowly loses its lubricant during sex. This 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 an over-the-counter pill that contains levonorgestrel is taken within 72 hours after sex, the chance to get pregnant is pretty low — according to different data, no more than three percent. Generally, the sooner you take 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 can result in pregnancy. Even if your partner didn’t ejaculate, you could still get pregnant from his precum. Precum or pre-ejaculate is fluid that may or may not contain active sperm. 

    It’s not common to conceive from precum, but the risk increases, especially if ovulation is happening or about to happen.

    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 work for you, you can choose any other barrier or a hormonal method of contraception. However, keep in mind that every method has its advantages and disadvantages, efficacy rates, contraindications, and price.

    If you need a safe, effective, inexpensive, and ubiquitous birth control method that 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 every time you have sex, you don’t need any additional contraception. They’re an effective method that provides protection from pregnancy and STIs. However, if you take birth control pills, you may need to use a condom for protection from STIs. This can come in handy if you have a new partner, for example.

    Is it possible to get pregnant after 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. 

    However, there is a small chance of getting pregnant using a condom due to improper use, tears, leaks, or leaving the condom inside the vagina after ejaculation. So the chance of getting pregnant using a condom varies from 10 percent to 18 percent with typical use.


    “Emergency Contraception (Morning after Pill, IUD).” NHS Choices, NHS, 22 Feb. 2018, www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/emergency-contraception/. Killick, Stephen R, et al. “Sperm Content of Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid.” Human Fertility (Cambridge, England), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Dec. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564677/. “Male Condoms: Know the Facts.” NHS Choices, NHS, 11 Nov. 2019, www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/condoms-know-the-facts/. “How Effective Is Contraception at Preventing Pregnancy?” NHS Choices, NHS, 17 Apr. 2020, www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/how-effective-contraception/.

    History of updates

    Current version (19 January 2021)

    Reviewed by Dr. Andrei Marhol, General practitioner, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania

    Published (12 April 2019)

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