Condoms- Fact and Fiction

Condoms are the only form of contraception which protects against both pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

Condoms are freely available from Sexual Health clinics, GP surgeries, community pharmacies supermarkets and other shops. They can also be ordered free by post from NHS Forth Valley.

There are a number of common myths surrounding condoms- the following information separates fact from fiction!

I’ve heard that condoms aren’t very reliable.

Used properly and consistently, condoms are a very effective contraception and are the only reliable means of reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV. The Family Planning Association quote an efficacy rate of 98% for condoms when they are used according to the instructions.

We’ve tried condoms before, but they always slip off.

When using condoms it is important that the penis is withdrawn soon after ejaculation, before the erection is lost. If this is not done, then the condom is likely to slip off. This can, in turn, release semen and lead to pregnancy and/or STIs. If slippage occurs during intercourse, then a tighter fitting condom may be required e.g. Pasante Trim

Don’t condoms slip and tear easily?

No! Good quality BSI Kite marked condoms are extremely strong. They can support a weight of around 10 kilos and stretch to hold the same capacity as two household buckets of fluid. However sharp edges like teeth, nails and jewellery can cause condoms to tear are, so care must be taken when opening the condom packaging and putting the condom on.

Forgetting to squeeze the air from the tip of the condom prior to putting it on can also be a cause of recurrent burst condoms.

Many people like to use extra lubricants with condoms. It is important that oil based products are avoided as they will cause the condom to burst or tear. Such substances include petroleum jelly, baby oil, lipstick, butter, massage oil etc.

If extra lubrication is required, water based products like Pasante lubricants, and KY Jelly are ideal.

If condoms really are effective, why don’t more people use them?

Condoms are the UK’s most popular method of contraception. More people rely on condoms than on the pill!

I don’t like the smell of rubber.

Not many people like the smell of rubber. Many condoms are now fragranced and smell of many different flavours e.g. mint. These can be used for oral sex too.

My partner says he can’t feel anything if he wears a condom.

Over the past few years, the technology has improved vastly and today’s quality condoms are thinner then a human hair and far more sensitive than they used to be. The range of different BSI Kite marked condoms now available are coloured, flavoured, large, shaped, loose, flared and ribbed – this can make choosing condoms much more fun. It may help to put a small amount of KY Gel (or equivalent) on the tip of the penis prior to putting the condom on.

Are condoms only intended for people who have lots of sexual partners?

Contrary to popular belief, condoms are as popular with couples spacing their families, as they are with young people. They are highly effective contraception and have no side effects.

If I’m on the pill, do I still need to use condoms as well?

Oral contraceptives provide no protection against STI’s at all. The only reliable method of reducing STI’s is by using condoms. Using the pill as well as condoms is known as ‘Double Dutch’

If I carry condoms, would people think I’m promiscuous?

Not any more! They’ll probably think how sensible and prepared you are. The really sensible ones will follow your example.

Aren’t all condoms basically the same?

Condoms which are safe to use quality condoms carry a European CE mark and/or the BSI Kite mark. The BSI Kite mark means that the manufacturer’s quality and production standards are tested regularly by BSI themselves – they do not rely on the manufacturer’s own claims about quality. BSI is your independent quality watchdog. Condoms without the Kite mark are not subjected to the same stringent independent testing.

One of us is allergic to condoms.

Some people think that they are allergic to rubber/latex when they are actually allergic to the spermicide on the condom. Using a non-spermicidally lubricated condom, eg a Pasante condom should avoid this problem. Poor quality condoms may contain high levels of potentially irritant chemicals which may also be confused with a latex allergy. There are a small number of people who are genuinely highly allergic to latex products, for them non-latex condoms, such as Pasante Unique are available.

How to put on a condom

You can order condoms free from our condoms by post service at


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