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10 things you need to know about condoms

It’s fitting that the day before Valentine’s Day is International Condom Day. Condoms are one of the key tools in preventing HIV and unwanted pregnancy but over the pandemic, condom use in South Africa halved. This International Condom Day, let’s fall back in love with condoms!

These are the 10 things you should know about condoms:

  1. Condoms are great because they protect people from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as unwanted pregnancy.
  2. Good quality condoms are FREE at all clinics and from many community organisations.
  3. Condoms can prevent pregnancy but they aren’t 100% so it’s safest to use them with other kinds of contraception like the injection, patch or pill.
  4. People at high risk of getting HIV, should use condoms with PrEP – a daily HIV prevention pill.
  5. There are condoms for male and female bodies. Female condoms work in the same way but are a slightly bigger and go inside the body before sex.
  6. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex and when you share sex toys. Put the condom on before any skin-to-skin contact with private parts (some STIs are spread through skin-to-skin contact). See this guide for how to use condoms>
  7. A water-based lubricant (lube) makes condoms more comfortable and stops them from breaking.  NEVER use oil-based products like Vaseline or baby oil – they weaken the condom, making them rip.
  8. It’s rare for a condom to break – but if it does, don’t panic, there are still things you can do to prevent HIV and pregnancy. Go to your local clinic and ask for emergency contraception (the morning after pill) as soon as possible – within 5 days. Ask about PEP if you’re worried about HIV. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine that can stop you getting HIV.
  9. Always check the expiry date of condoms and use a new one every time you have sex. NEVER re-use condoms or use condoms that are old or broken.
  10. People sometimes risk having unprotected sex because they are worried about people judging them for having condoms. But condoms are actually a way to show someone that you care about their health and choices.

Making healthy choices about your body today protects your future. Condoms are one of the easiest ways to do this!

Read more: All about condoms >