Condoms: How Effective Are They And Why You Should Be Using Them

Condoms Hanging on Rope against Yellow Background

Published Oct 12, 2020

Sex is amazing. Having consensual sex should be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone. But like everything in life, we need to be responsible when doing it. We need to think about the potential consequences of our actions and be ready to face them. Condoms have been around since 1855 but trace its origins back to even the ancient times. Since the introduction of the latex condom, the industry has only ballooned to amount to a 7.9 billion dollar industry in 2018. With this popularity and sales volume, it’s only natural to ask, “how effective are condoms?” Here, we answer related questions about birth control, STIs, and how to use a condom.

How effective are condoms?

The answer to this question differs. Of course, condoms used correctly have a much better success rate than condoms misused. 

Birth Control

Effectiveness could refer to a whole host of things, but first, let’s talk birth control. The primary reason people use condoms is for its ability to prevent pregnancies. It’s one of the most effective forms of birth control or contraception, both natural and artificial. When used correctly, condoms have a 98% success rate, meaning only 2 in every 100 women get pregnant with correct condom usage. 

However, humans are bound to make mistakes, including putting a condom on. When condoms are misused, the success rate deflates to 85%. But these are numbers related to male condoms, the ones men put on their penises.

Female condoms, however, have lower success rates than their male counterparts. When appropriately used, female condoms have a 95% success rate, with a 79% success rate misused.

Using condoms in conjunction with other birth control methods (birth control pills, IUD, and birth control shots) further reduces the chances of pregnancy. Additionally, pulling out (the act of withdrawing your penis before ejaculation) while wearing a condom is also recommended, as it helps keep sperm out of the vagina, preventing pregnancy. 

Some questions that are commonly asked about condoms involve lubricants and “double-bagging.” 

You can use lubricants in conjunction with condoms. However, you have to select the right ones. Water-based lubricants, such as those commercially-produced, are appropriate when using condoms. This protects the latex material, which most condoms are made out of. Oil-based lubricants, like petroleum jelly, lotion, and moisturizer, can break down the latex in condoms and increase their chances of breakage. 

Double-bagging is a slang used to refer to putting on two condoms instead of one. People believed that this made them “extra safe” and that it was a sure form of contraception. The truth is that wearing two condoms does not make it safer. Putting on two condoms actually increases the odds of one or both of them breaking. It is not safer and putting one condom on correctly is far more effective.

Open and wrapped condom

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Condoms will not protect you from all STIs, but that depends. Condoms protect you from STIs that are spread through bodily fluids. The correct use of condoms has shown 98% effectivity against most STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Using a condom while engaging in penis-to-vagina sex reduces the chances of contracting HIV by up to 80%. However, STIs spread through skin-to-skin contacts, such as herpes and HPV, may still pose a problem in some cases. 

Genital lesions are typical symptoms of herpes and HPV. If you have lesions present during the time of sexual intercourse, there’s a high chance you could pass on the infection. If the condom covers the affected area, you could significantly reduce the chances of passing the infection on to your partner. 

How do I use condoms properly?

The best way to maximize your condom’s effectiveness is to use it correctly. This entails wearing the condom correctly and for the entire duration of oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Here are the steps to follow to ensure you’re wearing a condom right every single time:

  1. Condoms last a long time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t expire. Always check the expiration date indicated on the packaging, as stale condoms have much-reduced effectiveness in preventing pregnancies.
  2. Ensure that you can feel an air pocket inside the packaging, and open carefully, ensuring you don’t tear or puncture the condom. If the condom feels dry, sticky, or smells off, don’t use it. 
  3. Next, you’ll want to place the condom on the head of your penis. Ensure that the rim is on the outside before pinching the condom’s tip, releasing the air pocket for the semen to pour into. If you placed the condom on inside-out, throw it out, and use a new one.
  4. Gently unroll the condom onto the shaft of the penis. If you’re uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before unrolling the condom al the way down to the base of the penis.
  5. Enjoy having sex!
  6. After ejaculation, hold onto the rim of the condom firmly while pulling out your erect penis, ensuring semen doesn’t spill. 
  7. Remove the condom away from your partner so that you don’t accidentally spill semen on them. 
  8. Tie up the condom and throw it in the trash can. If you’re having sex again, grab a new condom, and repeat the process.


Responsible sex is gratifying and liberating for both parties. Using condoms whenever you have sex is not only good for preventing pregnancies but great at maintaining your sexual health too. If your partner doesn’t want to wear condoms, talk to them about the fantastic benefits you could be getting by using them.

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Author Terrence Tan Ting

About The Author

is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.