External (Male) Condom

What is it?

An external condom fits over an erect penis or a similarly shaped sex toy. Condoms are widely available in latex but are also available in polyurethane or polyisoprene for those with latex allergies.

How do you use it?

Condoms can be put on an erect penis before oral sex on a penis, vaginal sex, or anal sex. It is important to select the right lubricant for the type of condom you are using. There is a right way, and a few wrong ways, to put on a condom. Make sure to check the expiry date, check if the package has any holes in it, pinch the tip of the condom before putting the condom on a penis, and ensure that the condom is being unrolled the correct way.

Where can you get it?

Pharmacies, convenience stores, sexual health centres and many more places will have condoms. Planned Parenthood Ottawa has a variety of large, flavoured, thin, and latex free condoms in our office for free. Also, the Ottawa Public Health campaign sexitsmart.ca lets you order condoms online for free. They get mailed to your door in an unmarked envelope, and you can re-order as many times as you want.

How much does it cost?

A box of 12 condoms costs approximately $12, though some brands or types are more or less expensive. You can also get condoms for free at Planned Parenthood Ottawa, the Sexual Health Centre, and most clinics and doctor’s offices.

How effective is it?

External condoms are 85% effective with typical use.

Does it reduce the risk of STIs?

Yes. External condoms reduce the risk of STIs by creating a barrier between you and your partner’s genitals and sexual fluids (vaginal fluid, anal fluid, ejaculate).

Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control

  • Widely available and often free at drop-in centers, community centers, and walk-in clinics
  • Easy to use
  • Reduces the risk of STIs.

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • Condoms can break or slip off if not used properly.
  • Can interrupt sex, but can also be made to be a part of foreplay.
  • Requires partner’s involvement. Resources are available for tips on negotiating condom use.

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