How Effective Are Condoms

how effective are condomsCondoms have been in use for ages and have withstood the test of time. Nothing better has been found for men than condoms when it comes to preventing unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms remain as relevant as ever. Their significance has even increased over the years as people now better understand STDs.

Therefore, it is logical to ask how effective condoms are.

When we talk about effectiveness, there are two main reasons to use condoms:

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  • Prevent unwanted pregnancies
  • Prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Condoms for preventing unplanned pregnancies

use condomWhen it comes to preventing pregnancies, condoms are almost 98% effective [1]. That is the highest level of effectiveness of any non-invasive contraceptive. Even female hormonal drugs have lower effectiveness.

However, with proper use, this effectiveness can be increased to almost a hundred percent.

Here it is vital to understand that for men, there is no other safe and effective way of contraception. There are, of course, other methods like vasectomy, but not all men would like to use such methods.

When it comes to hormonal contraception for men, they have poor effectiveness and safety record.

What also sets condoms apart from all other contraception methods is the highest degree of safety. They rarely cause any side effects. Some men are allergic to latex, but then there are polyurethane condoms.

Another unique benefit of a condom is that it can be worn quickly, and one is ready to have sex, unlike hormonal drugs that need time to start working. Condoms are easy to carry. Condoms are good for use when and as needed.

Condoms are equally suitable for those who have multiple sex partners and those who have infrequent sex.

For those with multiple sex partners, it is the most effective and reliable way of preventing unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

For those who have infrequent sex, condoms are a perfect solution. Since, in such cases, using other methods may not make practical sense.

Condoms and STDs

What sets condoms apart from other contraception methods is that it is the only contraception method that can also prevent STDs. There are no other methods that can prevent STDs as effectively as condoms, not even vaccines.

Unlike drugs, hormones, and vaccines, condoms work by creating a physical barrier and thus preventing the exchange of body fluids. It means that it can lower the risk of almost every kind of STD. For example, it can help prevent gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis C, B, HIV, and more.

Though condoms act like a universal shield, they are not perfect. They do not provide 100% safety, but then there is nothing like condoms. They still remain the most effective way of preventing STDs.

1 December - World Aids Day

1 December – World Aids Day

For example, if one uses condoms properly, it can prevent HIV with an effectiveness of above 90%, and the same is true for most other STDs.

Of course, condoms may be less effective for certain STDs like gonorrhea or HPV. It is because these infections may be transmitted due to close skin-to-skin contact, also. Nonetheless, it is worth understanding that there is nothing like condoms to lower the risk of these infections.

Is there a way to increase the effectiveness of condoms?

Condoms are generally quite good, even when used alone. However, for various reasons, some people may want to use other methods to increase their effectiveness. For example, some may face the issue of condom breaks too frequently. In such cases, one may use a spermicidal gel along with a condom. In addition, one may apply spermicide outside the condom.

Needless to say, that one should use a new condom each time. Additionally, one should also do some research to understand what condom is good for him. Choosing the right-sized condom is important. Additionally, if the condom slips down during sex, it is always better to go for a new condom.

Similarly, when it comes to STDs, one can take extra measures to increase safety and lower the risk of infections. Generally, couples must practice personal hygiene. For example, theoretically, having a bath before sex may help reduce the risk of certain infections transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, though such measures generally have limited benefits.

Similarly, it is worth understanding that vaccines and condoms are not mutually exclusive. Thus, there is quite an effective vaccine for hepatitis B, HPV, and so on. Therefore, those with risk behavior should get vaccinated for these infections.

Further, one can also ensure proper condom use. For example, in some instances, a condom may be damaged by sharp fingernails or jewelry.

Sometimes penis may touch the vagina before or after sex, which may also reduce the effectiveness of condoms.

Apart from the above reasons, there are some other less discussed reasons that may also affect condom effectiveness. Some men simply dislike wearing condoms. Thus, they do not wear condoms regularly.

Some of the common complaints are they condoms reduce sensation. However, it is worth understanding that there are condoms for every need. For those worried about sensation, there are ultrathin condoms that provide better sensation.

Here again, it is worth understanding that ultrathin condoms are relatively less safe due to a greater risk of condom breaks. However, in practice, this only slightly reduces the effectiveness of the condom. Moreover, using ultrathin condoms is much better than not using any condom at all.

Most ultrathin condoms have also been tested extensively; thus, their failure rates are slightly lower than thicker condoms. Some ultrathin condoms maybe even better than thicker condoms, as much depends on the manufacturing quality. Thus, the final recommendation; is always to choose condoms made by well-known manufacturers.

Final Words

To sum up, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies, but they are quite close to it. Thus, condoms are the most effective method of contraception. Additionally, using condoms is the most effective way of preventing STDs.

Once the person has learned to use condoms, got used to specific kinds of condoms. They are highly effective and may be almost close to 100% effective.


  1. Condoms. Published December 21, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2022.

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