How Effective are Condoms? All Your Condom Questions Answered

Condoms. We all know and love them, but how much do we really know about this go-to contraception?

We’ve collected your most-asked questions about condoms and found the answers. If you want to learn why condoms break, how to pick the right size, and how to put on a condom without being awkward, keep reading.

How effective are condoms?

If you use a condom correctly and every time that you have sex (we’re talking specifically about penis and vagina sex here), condoms are 98% effective. However, because people make mistakes when using them, their real-life effectiveness is more like 85% - which is still very high.

Condom with sperm shaped paper

This means that about 15 out of 100 people who only use condoms for birth control will get pregnant every year.

Condoms are also generally about 98% effective at protecting you from STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. They cannot protect you from STIs that are passed through skin-to-skin contact, however - like herpes.

When were condoms invented?

Condoms in one form or another have supposedly been around since medieval times when condoms made from animal-intestine were used to prevent pregnancy and disease.

Rubber condoms were created around 1858. Thinner options that covered the whole penis were available in the late 1800s and by the 1930s different condom varieties were affordable and available to the masses.

What are the best condoms for feeling?

Today, there are almost too many types of condoms to choose from. But if you’re looking for condoms to enhance pleasurable sensation or feel like you’re not wearing one, look for ones that are ultra-thin, ribbed, extra lubricated, or “natural feeling”.

Condoms and fruit on pink background

Do condoms expire? How long do they last?

Yes, condoms do expire. It happens for many reasons, including normal wear and tear or materials or additives breaking down. The average condom stays good for 3 to 5 years, but you should always check the expiration date just in case.

How old do you have to be to buy condoms?

In the US, you can legally buy condoms at any age.

How much are condoms?

An average condom costs around 1 dollar, but this will vary depending on the store, brand, type, and how many you buy at once.

Can you flush condoms?

Technically you can, but you really shouldn’t flush condoms down your toilet unless you want a blocked toilet and an expensive visit from the plumber.

Are reusable condoms a thing?

Condoms designed to be reused have come into the marketplace in recent years, with mixed success.

Hand with condom doing thumbs up

Most reviews of condoms designed to be reusable say they are thicker and less comfortable than standard condoms. You should never use a reusable condom with different partners as STIs can be passed this way.

If a condom isn’t designed to be reusable, don’t reuse it. It’s unhygienic and increases the chance of pregnancy and STI spread.

What condom size am I?

We already know size doesn’t matter, but picking the right condom size for you does.

Condom sizes come down to penis girth and length. Your condom size is based on the size of your erect penis. To figure out your condom size, measure penis length from the base to the tip, and girth by wrapping a tape measure around the thickest part.

You should check the size measurements of the condom brand you’re using. However, generally:

  1. Small condoms have a width of below 1.8 inches and a length of around 7 to 7.6 inches.
  2. Medium condoms have a width of around 2 inches and a length of around 7.4 to 7.9 inches.
  3. Large condoms have a width of around 2.15 inches and a length of around 7.7 to 8.3 inches.

How do female condoms work?

A female condom, also called an internal condom, is a soft pouch with a ring on each end. One ring is inserted into the vagina and the other left outside the vagina, which holds the condom in place and makes it easy to remove.

Different coloured condoms on pink background

What are condoms made of?

Condoms are usually made of latex, which is a type of rubber. However, some are made of lambskin or polyurethane - which is good for people with latex allergies.

Why do condoms break?

There are a few common reasons why condoms break. Condoms can break if they’re old or if they’ve been improperly stored or opened. Things like oils, lotions, heat, and being folded in a wallet for years can weaken a condom and make it susceptible to breaking.

Condoms can also break if they are not put on properly. For example, if there isn’t enough room left at the tip. They can also tear if there isn’t enough lubrication when they’re used, or if they come into contact with something sharp, like teeth, nails, or rings.

How to put on a condom without being awkward?

It’s the age-old question. We have a few tips for putting on a condom in the coolest and most sexy way possible.

  1. Don’t rush. Take your time rolling it down fully and stay calm. Use it as a chance to build tension. Give your lover a wink.
  2. Put it on properly and don’t flap if it goes wrong.
  3. Keep the connection going while you’re putting it on. A simple “You look so good” will go far.
  4. Have them nearby so you don’t have to go rummaging for one.
  5. Practice! Try putting on condoms while you masturbate so you get used to doing it and can try out different types and sizes.
Lovers embracing in bed

Our final bit of advice? Remember that condoms are sexy. They protect you and your partner’s physical and mental health and show that you care about each other. What’s sexier than that?