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What are condoms?

photo of a condom

A condom is a sheath made of thin rubber. You put it on an erect penis when you have sex. The condom catches the semen. And that really reduces the risk of an STI and of pregnancy. 

Why use a condom?


With a condom, there’s less risk of an STI. Condoms protect you against most STIs, but they’re less effective against herpes and genital warts.

Read more about STIs

Prevents pregnancy

If you use condoms, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get pregnant. For extra protection against pregnancy, you could also take the pill or have an IUD fitted. That’s the best way to make sure you don’t get pregnant.

How to prevent pregnancy

How do you use condoms?

If a condom isn’t put on properly, it could slip off or tear. And then there’s a risk of an STI or pregnancy. So it’s important to use condoms the right way. How do you do that?

How to put on a condom


Video: Bringing it up & putting it on

How do you bring up condoms? And how do you put one on properly? Watch this video and hear about other young people’s experiences.

Where can you buy condoms?

You can buy condoms in lots of places. For example:

  • Chemists
  • Pharmacies
  • Supermarkets

You’ll also find them in vending machines at many bars, clubs and discos. And you can buy condoms online.

Need some condoms right now? Find places that sell condoms 

Video: Choosing & buying

How do you find the condom that’s best for you? Where do you buy them? Watch this video and hear about other young people’s experiences.

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Using a condom reduces the risk of an STI
  • You don’t have to go and see a doctor first
  • It’s not something you have to think about unless you’re about to have sex (but make sure you’ve always got some with you)
  • You can buy condoms in lots of places.
  • They might help you have sex for longer before you have an orgasm 
  • No semen gets into the vagina or anus


  • If you don’t put a condom on properly, it could tear or slip off. Then it won’t protect you properly against STIs or pregnancy
  • Some people don’t like having to stop during sex to put one on
  • You need one every time you have sex
  • Some people feel less during sex