External (male) condoms are latex or polyurethane sleeves that slip over the penis to help lower risk of pregnancy and STIs. When a person decides to have sex, it is important they use a condom correctly every time to help lower the risk of transmission of STIs – especially HIV, but they are not 100% effective in preventing either pregnancy or STIs.

Condoms don’t require a prescription and are typically found in drug stores, clinics, and supermarkets.


The external condom is less effective than hormonal methods of birth control, but much more effective than not using any method, and they must be used correctly and consistently every time (87%). This means that statistically 13 out of every 100 users will get pregnant using this method in the first year (Cason P, Cwiak C, Edelman A, et al. Contraceptive Technology, 22nd Edition. Burlington MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2023).


Condoms are inexpensive and easy to find. Around $0 – $1.80 each.


Learn more on how to put on and take off a condom

Side effects

Usually none. Some people are allergic to latex. These people need to use a polyurethane condom.


effective (Cason, et al., 2023)