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Male CONDOMS – everything I need to know

A male condom is a thin covering, usually made of latex rubber, polyurethane (soft plastic) or polyisoprene that is worn over an erect or hard penis or sex toy during oral, vaginal or anal sex. 

Condoms provide great protection from both pregnancy and STIs. They’re easy to use and easy to get.

A male condom is sometimes called the external since it is designed to be is worn on the penis. It is usually made of latex, a type of rubber. But some are made of materials that are safe for people with latex allergies, such as polyurethane or polyisoprene. 

How does the external/male condom prevent pregnancy and STIs?

  • Prevent pregnancy: In order to get pregnant, sperm must enter the vagina, swim into the uterus and fertilize an egg that has been released from the ovaries during ovulation. The condom prevents semen (cum) that contains sperm from getting inside the vagina and reaching an egg. And thus prevents pregnancy.
  • Prevent STIs: In order to pass on most STIs, bodily fluids (anal fluids, vaginal fluids, semen or blood) from someone who has an STI must come into contact with someone else’s mucus membranes inside the penis, mouth, anus, or vagina. The condom prevents bodily fluids from coming into contact with mucus membranes. And thus prevents the spread of STIs. 

How effective is the male condom?

  • When you’re having sex with someone, using condoms is the only way to prevent STIs.
  • Latex male condoms are 97% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. This means that if 100 people use condoms correctly for one year, only 3 people will get pregnant.
  • Spermicide-coated condoms have the same level of effectiveness.
  • Nearly all accidents with condoms happen because they are used incorrectly. Because condoms may be used incorrectly, they are closer to 86% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use.
  • Condoms offer excellent protection against most STIs, but are less effective in preventing STIs that are spread from genital skin-to-skin contact like herpes or HPV because condoms may not cover all of the affected areas.

What size condom do I need?

Condoms come in all different sizes. 

Finding the right size is important for safer sex. Condoms that are too tight may break and condoms that are too big could slip off or cause semen to leak. All of these increase your risk of STIs or unintended pregnancy.

The best way to figure out what size condom you need is to try different ones. Start with a regular condom. Does it roll on easily and stay in place? It’s the right size. 

If it feels loose or seems to slip off, go for a smaller size. They’re labeled “small”.

And if it’s painfully tight or looks like it’ll tear, try a bigger size. Start with “large” or magnum” condoms. If those are still too tight, try “extra-large” or “XL.”

What types of condoms are there?

There are many different types of condoms you can get. 

> Condoms with a flavor

> Condoms with different sizes: extra large or small

> Condoms that are extra thin

> “Fun condoms” with funny characters. These are nice to see, but do not protect against STIs and pregnancy.

> Female condom. This is a condom that you put in your vagina. Read more about the female condom here.

How old do you have to be to buy condoms?

Anyone can buy condoms. You don’t have to be a certain age, show an ID, or have a prescription.

You can buy condoms at lots of places, like your local pharmacy, shop, supermarket, and convenience store. You can also sometimes get them for free at all public health care facilities, and learning institutions such as universities. 

Where do you get male condoms?

You can buy condoms at your local pharmacy, shop, supermarket, and convenience store. Many public health facilities give them away free of charge. You do not need a prescription to buy condoms, and you do not need ID. People of all ages can easily buy condoms. 

Worried about how you will afford the condoms you need? Not sure where to get them? Get free condoms here! (Link)

How Much Do Condoms Cost?

A packet of male condoms cost about 50 to 100 shillings. Each packet has 3 condoms inside.

Many public health centers and family planning clinics and some higher learning schools distribute them free of charge.

Too scared or embarrassed to buy condoms? You really don’t need to worry: There is no need to feel embarrassed. Though many people may feel self-conscious when it comes to sexual matters, sex is natural, healthy, and a part of most people’s adult life. You can take pride in the fact that you're being safe, responsible, and respectful of your partner(s) by making sure you have condoms to protect yourself and each other.

How do I make sure I have condoms with me?

It’s important that you have condoms with you. Just when you least expect it, you may be having sex and needing a condom. And you want to be ready.

So, keep condoms:

  • In your wallet
  • In your pocket
  • In your jacket pocket
  • In your handbag

What about lubricant? 

Lubricant is a water-based, slippery liquid that can help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation caused by the skin-on-skin friction that can happen during sex.

Important things to remember about lubricant:

Only use WATER-based lubricants that are made for the purpose of having sex. 

Never use anything oil-based on a condom, such as Vaseline, baby oil, body lotion or vegetable oils, because the oil weakens the latex that the condom is made of and can cause condoms to break!

Advantages and disadvantages of external/male condoms


> A condom is the only contraceptive that protects you against STIs

> You don't need a prescription from the doctor..

> It’s not something you have to think about unless you’re going to have sex (but do make sure you've always got some in case you need them!)

> You can easily buy them in lots of places.

> A condom can stop boys having an orgasm too quickly.

> No semen gets into the vagina or anus


> If you don’t use a condom properly, there is a risk of tearing, leaking or slipping off. That makes condoms less reliable than other contraception.

> Some people don’t like having to stop during sex to put it on or take it off.

> You have to use one every time you have sex.

> Some men say they don’t feel as much.

Condom Dos and Don’ts

DO use a condom every time you have sex.

DO put on a condom before having sex.

DO read the package and check the expiration date.

Do use quality condoms by checking if it is approved by KEBS

DO make sure there are no tears or defects.

DO store condoms in a cool, dry place.

DO use latex or polyurethane condoms.

DO use water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage.

DON’T store condoms in your wallet as heat and friction can damage them.

DON’T use nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), as this can cause irritation.

DON’T use oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they will cause the condom to break.

DON’T use more than one condom at a time.

DON’T reuse a condom.

How to Put On and Take Off a Male Condom correctly

  1. Carefully open and remove condom from wrapper.
  1. Place condom on the head of the erect, hard penis. If uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin first.
  1. Pinch air out of the tip of the condom. 
  1. Unroll condom all the way down the penis.
  2. After sex but before pulling out, hold the condom at the base. Then pull out, while holding the condom in place.
  3. Carefully remove the condom and throw it in the trash.

Talking to Your Partner about Condoms

Deciding to have sex, either for the first time or with a new person, is always a big decision. The most important thing you can do when you’ve decided to take it to the next level is to communicate with your partner! It takes two people to consent to having sex and two people to prevent STIs and pregnancy.

Talking with your partner about your choice to use condoms can be hard. Here are some tips to get the conversation started and overcome some of the most common arguments.


  1. Start by getting familiar with condoms. Knowing how to use one with your partner can help you overcome any fears and keep your partner from saying something like “I don’t know how to use one, so let’s just skip it” conversation.
  2. Your partner may say, “but you’re (I’m) on the pill!” Let them know that the pill can only protect you from getting pregnant, and will not stop you from getting an STI or HIV. For LGBT people, pregnancy may not be a concern. But remember, any time you are choosing to have sex, condoms are important to protect against STIs and HIV.
  3. This may lead to a question of “Don’t you trust me?” Let them know that you trust them, but that this will be the safest way to protect BOTH of you, since many STIs don’t show symptoms. Also, who is to say that you exes did not have STIs? You can go get tested together! Going together to a local clinic can help build trust in your relationship.
  4. Then there is the famous “if you love me then you wouldn’t need to wear one”. But this goes both ways. If they love you back, they will accept your decision to use a condom, respect your desire to keep you both safe and healthy, and understand that you won’t have sex until they do.
  5. When the time comes and you are ready to have sex, your partner may say that they don’t have any condoms. Come prepared with some condoms of your own or suggest that you go to the store and get them together. This way you can select the ones that will work best for both of you. 
  6. Just grab a condom and put it on yourself or on your partner. You don’t need to say anything. This action makes it clear what you mean. 

When the time comes and you are ready to have sex, your partner may say that they don’t have any condoms. Come prepared with some condoms of your own or suggest that you go to the store and get them together. This way you can select the ones that will work best for both of you. 

There are many excuses a partner may use to keep condoms out of the equation when having sex. Be prepared and comfortable with your possible responses to make sure your voice is heard and respected.

Did you learn something?

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