If you’ve ever wondered how effective condoms actually are, you’re not alone. Plenty of guys want a better understanding of how condoms work and how they help prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STDs. After all, having faith in your method of protection helps you show up with confidence in the bedroom. So if you’ve ever wondered about the effectiveness of condoms, keep reading to understand how condoms can help you have safer sex.
What Types of Condoms Are We Talking About?
Before we dive in, it’s important to know that the effectiveness of condoms can vary depending on the material they’re made out of.
Latex, Polyisoprene, or Polyurethane
When it comes to overall protection, your best bet is to go with a condom that’s made from latex, polyisoprene, or polyurethane. Why? These materials are the only ones approved to protect against pregnancy and the transmission of bodily fluids that spread STDs and STIs—with proper use. However, since some STDs and STIs are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, you’ll still need to be careful about the areas that the condom doesn’t cover.
If sex and safety are on your mind, explore Champ’s all-star lineup of condoms that help you stay safe while playing the field.
Female (Internal) Condoms
What about female condoms? Female (or internal) condoms sit inside of the vaginal canal to stop fluids from passing through, and most are made out of a soft material known as nitrile. The good news is that these condoms are just as effective as latex, polyisoprene, or polyurethane with perfect use; at their best, female condoms are 98% effective. To account for mistakes or imperfect use, the real-life effectiveness of internal condoms is about 79%.
When it comes to preventing the spread of STDs and STIs, lambskin condoms provide the least amount of protection. Since lambskin is porous, it’s easy for bodily fluids to pass through it. While they don’t provide much protection against STDs and STIs, lambskin condoms are actually effective (98%) at preventing pregnancy with proper use. That’s because the pores in the lambskin are just small enough to prevent the passage of sperm.
PSA: Know Your Equipment
There’s a lot of variation in the effectiveness of different condom types. So for the purposes of this deep dive, the information we share will stem from broad statistics unless otherwise specified. As always, be sure to read up on how to properly use and store your condoms before using them—especially if they’re made out of a material you’re not used to working with.
A Look at the StatisticsCondom use is a safer sex habit; and just like any other habit, consistency is key. Assuming you use them each and every time you have sex, condoms prevent pregnancy 98% of the time. However, slip-ups happen and people sometimes forget about protection in the heat of the moment. So if we take human error into account, condoms are 87% effective at preventing pregnancy.
But what about STDs and STIs? With proper use, condoms reduce the risk of transmitting HIV by 85%. Consistent condom use also lowers the chances of transmitting Hepatitis B by 90%, and genital herpes by 40%.
How You Use Them Matters
One of the biggest enemies of condom efficacy is tearing. The power of condoms lies in their ability to be a flexible but strong barrier to stop the transmission of bodily fluids. So here are a few guidelines to follow to help your condoms work as intended, sans tearing.
Finding the right fit is critical for proper condom use. Condoms that are too tight or loose are more susceptible to tearing, and therefore cannot reliably protect against STDs, STIs, and pregnancy. But how do you know if your condom fits correctly? Let’s take a look at some of the key signs to look for in a fitting condom.
- Are not overly tight and don’t restrict blood flow
- Are comfortable and reach the bottom of your shaft
- Fit snuggly, with no gaps around the condom’s rim
- Don’t unroll during sex
- Leave about a half inch of space at the tip for semen to flow into
Lube: Do's and Don'ts
Time for one of our favorite topics. When it comes to safer sex, lube can either make or break (literally) condom effectiveness. Using a lube that’s compatible with the material of your condom can help reduce friction, and thus decrease the risk of condom breakage. However, using an incompatible lube is likely to lead to a condom malfunction.
Safe for All Condoms & Toys
If you want to be confident that your lube will jive well with your condom, go for a water-based lube; this type of lube is safe to use with any kind of condom.
For lube that’s hypoallergenic and compatible with all your equipment, check out Champ’s Water-Based Lubricant.
Safe for All Condoms, but Not All Toys
Silicone-based lubes are a strong option since they are also compatible with all condom types. However, silicone-based lube can degrade the surface of toys made of silicone and other soft materials.
Not Safe for Condoms or Toys
First and foremost, oil-based lube shouldn’t be used internally because the body has a hard time cleaning out the oil. You should also avoid using oil-based lube with latex condoms since the oil causes the condom’s surface to degrade and break down. This type of lube isn’t great for sex toys either, as the oil is difficult to clean. Overall, it’s best to save the oil-based lube for a steamy (external) massage.
Proper Condom Care
How effective a condom can be is also impacted by how well you store your condoms. Check out these quick tips for safe condom care.
- Keep your condoms in a dry, cool place
- Do not keep your condoms in the way of direct sunlight
- Avoid keeping condoms in your car, wallet, or bathroom
If you’re sick of throwing all your condoms into the same messy drawer, check out Champ’s Small Dopp Kit. It’s compact enough to keep in your nightstand and makes for a great travel storage solution.
We hope you’re feeling more informed about condom safety. From finding the right fit to storing them correctly, condoms can be incredibly effective when used properly. With your condom-care know-how, you’ll be able to worry less about condom malfunctions and enjoy having safer sex with confidence.