External Condom

  • 88 - 98 % Effective
  • STI Protection
  • Single use

What is the external condom?

The external condom is a thin pouch that is usually made of latex (rubber) and also available in polyurethane (plastic) or polyisoprene (synthetic rubber). You put it on an erect (stiff) penis or sex toy before it enters the vagina or anus during sex.

Fpv Condom
Photo of external condom

How effective is the external condom?

External condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly, every time you have sex. Given mistakes might happen, such as incorrect use, slippage or breakage, external condoms might only be 88% effective.

How does the external condom work?

The external condom works by preventing ejaculate (cum) from the penis entering the vagina or anus. The external condom can prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Use a new external condom every time you have sex.

How to use the external condom?

Check the expiry date before use. Squeeze the tip of the external condom to remove air, then roll it down on the erect penis or sex toy as far as it will go.

External condom on erect penis

Each external condom can only be used once and then be thrown away into a bin (not down the toilet). To prevent pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections (STIs), the external condom should be put on before the penis touches the vagina or anus. External condoms can be used with water-based or silicone-based lubricants (lube). Lube is a jelly or liquid like material. Oil-based lube cannot be used with latex external condoms, as it can damage latex, increasing the risk of pregnancy or STIs. Check the lube product label before using.

Where can I get the external condom?

External condoms and lube are available from supermarkets, pharmacies/chemists and petrol stations. Some clinics, youth services and community health services provide them for free.

What stops the external condom from working?

External condoms might not work if they are:

  • used incorrectly
  • used with oil-based lubricant
  • past their expiry date
  • used at the same time as certain vaginal medications (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist)
  • the wrong size for the penis
  • torn when opening packet
  • kept in hot places for a long time (like a car glove box in summer).

What is good about the external condom?

Are there any side effects from using the external condom?

They can occasionally cause irritation of the vagina, penis or anus.

Can the external condom cause any serious health problems?

Some people are allergic to latex. Non-latex external condoms are available.

Reasons why the external condom may not be a good option:

  • You or your partner have difficulty keeping an erection.

What if I had sex without using an external condom?

If you or your partner do not want to get pregnant, you might need emergency contraception, if you had sex without using an external condom or other contraception (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

What if pregnancy happens while using the external condom?

It is safe to continue the pregnancy or to have an abortion.

Can I use external condoms after I have had a baby?

You can use external condoms any time after giving birth.

What else should I know about the external condom?

  • Wrap used external condoms in tissue and throw away safely. Do not flush external condoms down the toilet.
  • The external condom is one of many types of contraception. See other options.

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Where to get more information and support

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This website and any related materials are for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as (or in substitution for) medical or other professional advice. You should seek specific medical or professional advice for your individual circumstances.

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Last updated: 9 June 2021