Quick Facts

Least effective

Most types protect against STIs

Easy to get


Must be used correctly every time you have sex

Can be used with another method for extra protection

A beige condom, still rolled up

More About Condoms

Condoms are small pouches made of latex, plastic, or lambskin. They cover the penis and catch semen. This stops sperm from getting into the vagina and meeting an egg. If sperm can’t get to an egg, you can’t get pregnant. When using a condom there is less contact with semen and vaginal fluid. There is also less skin-to-skin contact that can spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs). That’s double protection!

  • Must be used correctly each time you have sex
  • When used the right way, they give great protection from pregnancy and STIs.


How to Use a Condom

  • Check for expiration date – condoms go bad!
  • Know how to put the condom on! Practice makes perfect!
  • Use with lube to help avoid tearing.
  • Use one condom with each erection.
  • Hold the base of the condom when pulling out so condom comes out with the penis.
  • Tie off the end and throw in the trash, NOT in the toilet.
  • Put a new one on if having sex more than one time.
A hand pinches the tip of the condom and the other hand rolls the condom over an erect penis
Orange donut chart showing 82%. The title says "82% effective with typical use"
Yellow donut chart showing 98%. The title says "98% effective with perfect use"


  • 83% effective with typical use. That is, on average, 8 out of 100 people using this method will get pregnant in a year. You can improve effectiveness by using it with another method, e.g. withdrawal or spermicide.
  • 98% effective with perfect use. That is, if the condom is used correctly all the time, 2 out of 100 people will get pregnant in a year.


  • Protects from STIs
  • Can be used with any other method, except the internal condom.
  • Hormone-free
  • They come in many styles, sizes, and textures. This can help increase pleasure for you and your partner.
  • Easy to get from clinics or over the counter
Nine hands each holding a thumbs up
A young woman holds up her hands as if weighing options and looks thoughtful

Side Effects and Limitations

  • If you are allergic to latex, make sure to get non-latex condoms.
  • You must have condoms with you and know how to use them the right way!
  • Only effective if used correctly every time you have sex.
  • Latex and plastic condoms protect against STIs. Lambskin or other animal membranes do not.

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of condoms. A provider can help you decide if condoms are the best option for you. Search for a nearby Family PACT provider: click the “Find Providers” button in the top right-hand corner of this page.

California Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo