a colourful selection of condoms

Male condom

A condom is a rubber sheath that fits over the penis and stops sperm from getting into the vagina.

It’s like a very thin and stretchy tube-shaped bag, with a teat at the closed end to collect the sperm.
Condoms are the only birth control method that protects against both unintended pregnancy and STDs, this excludes lambskin condoms as they provide no protection from STDs.

They come in different sizes, styles, and shapes. Condoms can be made out of latex, polyurethane, or lambskin. You can get them lubricated or unlubricated. Sometimes they contain spermicide. You can also get flavoured, coloured, or ribbed condoms.

There are also female condoms that go inside the vagina, but here we’re talking about male condoms.

How well does it work?

Failure rate:
Typical use: 13 percent
Perfect use: 2 percent
Read more about what ‘failure rate’ means in ‘How well does it work?’


  • Prevents pregnancy and also protects against STDs
  • You don’t need to see a healthcare provider or get a prescription
  • Easy to get – you can buy them at most pharmacies and supermarkets
  • Few side effects – a few people are allergic to latex and need to use another type
  • Easy to use
  • You can stop using condoms to try to get pregnant whenever you like
  • Lightweight and disposable
  • It may help a man stay hard longer

Some people say that they have better sex when they use condoms because they’re able to focus on sexual pleasure without worrying about pregnancy or STDs. Putting on condoms can even be part of foreplay.


  • You’ve got to use a condom each time you have sex.
  • You’ve got to get the man to co-operate.
  • You can’t use them without your partner noticing.
  • Roughly six people out of 100 who use condoms are allergic to latex. If you’re allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms or ask your female partner to use a female condom.
  • Men may feel self-conscious and embarrassed about using condoms, so practice if you think you may be one of them. Putting on condoms can be very sexy and included as part of foreplay!

How do condoms work?

Condoms prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm out of the vagina.
You can also use them to protect against STDs when you’re having oral sex or anal sex.


Latex condoms are best at preventing pregnancy and protecting against STDs. But if you’re allergic to latex, you can use condoms made of polyurethane.

Polyurethane is the best option after latex. These condoms are slightly thinner and more expensive. One advantage is that you can feel your partner’s warmth through them more easily. This can make sex feel more intimate.

Polyurethane condoms prevent pregnancy and protect against STDs as well as latex ones. But because they are thinner, they’re slightly more likely to break and slip off during sex than latex condoms.

Lambskin condoms only prevent pregnancy. They won’t protect you against STDs.

The most common and mildest type of allergic reaction is dryness and itchiness. The worst forms range from a serious rash to a life-threatening shock reaction.

How do you use condoms?

There are usually instructions on the package to show you how to put on a condom. Read them carefully if you’re not sure.

  • Use a condom only once i.e. use a new condom with each act of sexual intercourse
  • Condoms have an expiration date on the package. Make sure the condom isn’t out of date.
  • If the condom is brittle or stiff, throw it away and use another one, because brittle or stiff condoms are more likely to slip or break during sex.
  • If you’d like extra lubrication, use a water-based lubricant. The spit can also work well. Avoid using oil-based lubricants because they can damage latex condoms.

See below for a list of safe and unsafe lubricants under ‘How do I take care of condoms?’ below.

How to put on a male condom:

  1. Carefully tear open the package, starting from the serrated edge. The condom won’t tear because it’s flexible. But go gently, and don’t use your teeth, or anything sharp, like scissors. Don’t use the condom if the package is damaged or it’s out of date. Check which way the condom unrolls. If it’s the wrong way round it won’t roll over the penis. If you accidentally start putting the condom on the wrong way round, throw it away and use a new one.
  2. Place the condom on the head of the erect penis.
  3. Unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis

Taking off a male condom:

  1. Take your penis out before it gets soft.
  2. Hold the condom at the base as you pull out so no semen spills.
  3. Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw away it away in a garbage bin. If you prefer you can tie a knot at the base to stop the sperm from coming out. Don’t put the condom down the toilet.

What happens if my condom breaks?

Sometimes condoms break. This can happen if the condom doesn’t fit properly or just because of bad luck.  
Luckily this hardly ever happens. If used properly, on average latex condoms only break four times out of every 1,000. Polyurethane condoms break four times out of 100.

If a condom breaks, it’s less effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs.

If this happens to you, pull it out quickly and replace it. If a condom breaks and any fluid could have gotten inside the vagina, think about using emergency contraception.

Emergency contraception – the ‘morning after pill’ – can prevent pregnancy up to five days after having sex. The sooner you take it, the better it will work.

What happens if a condom slips off and I can’t get it out of my vagina?

Try not to panic it is unlikely that an appointment to remove a condom would be needed. First, the condom cannot get lost in the vagina, this is not harmful. You can usually reach it with your finger in your vagina. If you fail to reach it with your fingers, it will come out by itself (or become closer to the vaginal opening/easily reachable) once normal activity/movement resumes.
Because sperm might have leaked out of the condom you should think about using emergency contraception – the ‘morning after pill.’

How do I take care of condoms?

Store condoms in a cool, dry place. Avoid keeping them in a back pocket, wallet, or glove compartment for long periods because the heat could damage them.
Use water-based lubricants with latex condoms. 

Safe lubricants for all condoms:

  • Astroglide
  • Glycerin
  • KY lubricating jelly
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Water
  • Saliva

Unsafe lubricants for latex condoms include baby oil, butter, cream, body lotions, massage oil, mineral oil, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), rubbing alcohol, suntan lotions, and certain kinds of yeast infection creams, cooking oil – and whipped cream!

How often do I have to use a condom?

Simple – every time you have sex!

How much do condoms cost?

Between 5 and 35 Kenyan Shillings per condom. But often you can get them free from family planning clinics.

Where do I get condoms?

You can buy condoms at most drug stores, some supermarkets, and family planning clinics. Sometimes condoms are sold in vending machines at bars or in public toilets. Sometimes health clinics will give you condoms free of charge.


If you feel a bit nervous or embarrassed to buy them, you could try:

  • Buying them in a store you normally never go to, so the staff doesn’t know who you are.
  • Going to the shop at a quiet time, maybe very early in the day, or during a weekday, so you won’t run into people you know.

Buying condoms with a friend or your partner

If you’re too scared to buy condoms at a shop, you could try ordering them online or asking a friend or someone older whom you trust to buy them for you. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get condoms from a health clinic nearby.

How do I talk to my partner about using condoms?

Talking about condoms with your partner is important. You might feel nervous, but think about it – if you’re a girl, wouldn’t you be even more nervous telling them you’re pregnant? And telling them you’ve got an STD is hard for both boys and girls. It’s so worth it to talk about condoms beforehand.

You can practice what you’re going to say beforehand. Think about what your partner will say about using condoms.

No glove, no love

Many people make lots of excuses to not wear condoms. They might say they feel condoms reduce pleasure or make sex less intimate, but it could just be because they’re embarrassed to use them.
If your partner makes excuses, make sure you’re ready with reasons that can explain the benefits of using a condom when you have sex.

Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner:

Your partner says:
‘You don’t trust me.’

‘If you really loved me, you would trust me enough not to want to use a condom.’

You can say:
‘I can enjoy sex more if I know we’re both protected from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s not about trust, it’s about peace of mind.’

‘I do, but I’m not risking my life to prove it to you. Instead, I’d like to have some hot sex!’

‘If you really loved me, you’d help us protect ourselves.’
‘It’s uncomfortable’

Your partner says:
‘It’s uncomfortable.’

‘It doesn’t fit properly.’

‘It comes off during sex.’

You can say:
‘Let’s try a different brand or size. I heard that certain brands fit better than others.’

‘Wearing a condom puts me out of the mood.’

Your partner says:
‘Wearing a condom puts me out of the mood.’

You can say:
‘Why don’t we try something sexy with a condom, like say I can put one on using my mouth?’

‘Having unsafe sex can put you out of the mood for good!’
‘I’ll pull out in time.’

Your partner says:
‘I’ll pull out in time.’

You can say:
‘Even if you do, I can still get pregnant. One little sperm is all it takes. Who knows your sperm could be super potent!’

‘Even if you do, I could get a sexually transmitted disease from your pre-come.’

‘It doesn’t feel as good with a condom.’

Your partner says:
‘It doesn’t feel as good with a condom.’

‘I won’t enjoy sex if we use a condom because there’s no skin-to-skin contact.’

You can say:
‘I’ll enjoy sex if it’s safe. Anyway, I heard there are great ways to make it feel like skin to skin. We could try putting an extra bit of lubricant on the inside of the condom, so you’ll get this extra sensitive feeling on the tip of your penis.’

‘If you use a female condom or a condom made out of polyurethane with lubricant, you’ll be able to get that great skin-to-skin feeling because polyurethane can transmit body heat.’

‘I feel more relaxed knowing we’re safe. And if I’m more relaxed, we can have more fun together!’

‘You’re on the pill, so why would you need to use a condom?’

Your partner says:
‘You’re on the pill, so why would you need to use a condom?’

You can say:
‘Well, if we use a condom with the pill, we can be even safer because the pill isn’t 100 percent effective against pregnancy. Also, wearing a condom can help protect us from infections that we don’t even know we’ve got. Didn’t you know – it’s called “Double Dutch!”’

‘Putting it on interrupts the mood’

Your partner says:
‘Putting it on interrupts the mood.’

You can say:
‘Not, if I help put it on… I can make it worth your while!’

Tips for male condom use

Put it on with your mouth
Put the condom in your mouth, gently suck on the condom tip (teat) between your teeth, put the condom over the end of the penis in your mouth, then take the penis into your mouth to roll the condom down it. Try licking the condom all the way down.

If you want some extra practice before doing this on him, try practicing on a cucumber or a dildo. This is a good technique to use if he says that wearing condoms or putting them on is awkward.

Give him the green light
Think of ripping open a condom packet as a ‘green light’ for sex. Taking a condom packet out and confidently ripping it open is a sexy way to show your partner that you’re ready for some penetrative action.
Use this on your partner especially if he’s not keen on the idea of using a condom. And add a bit of water-based lubricant on the inside of the condom so it slides on easily – not too much though, or the condom could slip off.

Tease him
Slowly slide a condom on him, gently caressing his penis, testicles, or anus. To add some variation, ask him to put on a condom and show you how he likes to be touched. Let him know it turns you on.

Use thin condoms for a skin-to-skin feeling
Thinner condoms are no more likely to break than thicker or regular condoms when you’re having sex, even if you’re having anal sex. So to feel extra close, try using some thinner ones next time. This is a good option if you and your partner want to feel even closer during sex.

Messy is sexy
If you like sex that’s messy and watching your partner come, get him to pull out before he ejaculates. He can take off the condom and come all over your chest, breasts, or back.

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Recent Comments (37)

    1. Hi Uhuru, why do you feel…
      Hi Uhuru, why do you feel condoms are not the best?

  1. Do condom bust d
    During sex?…

    Do condom bust d
    During sex??? and where do that burst

  2. The

    Thanks for your advice

    Thanks for your advice

    1. You are welcome Tonnie.
      You are welcome Tonnie.

  3. Is there a difference…
    Is there a difference between those condom za gava and the once you buy? Someone says the gava condoms are bad quality.

    1. Hi Bryan, Condoms are made…

      Hi Bryan, Condoms are made out of latex whether they are branded and you pay for them or they are distributed for free. The difference is occasioned by the additions like flavor and others since these companies do this for profit and they make the differences to increase their sales. The material however is Latex. This then means the quality is good in all cases and the condom will work well if used correctly. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/condoms-myths-busted

  4. Why do condoms burst during…
    Why do condoms burst during sex? Happened to me twice now?

    1. Hi, condoms will burst…

      Hi, condoms will burst during sex if they are not put on correctly and if one uses two condom at the same time. It is important to follow the steps described in the article above to make sure the condom doesn’t burst. 

  5. At what level a man should…
    At what level a man should put the condom

  6. I itch myself alot when we…
    I itch myself alot when we use condom with my husband. why is this happening?

    1. Hi Kelly, it is possible…

      Hi Kelly, it is possible that you could be allergic to latex, the material used in the manufacture of male condoms, especially if this only happens when you use male condoms during sex. You may want to consider a different birth control method or switch to female condoms, which are made of a different material with minimal chances of allergic reactions. Have a look at the following article including the use of female condoms;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/female-condoms-tell-me-more

  7. what is the problem if your…
    what is the problem if your partner if your partner cannot have sex with a condom as in with a condom the erection goes almost immediately?

  8. Which is the best condom…
    Which is the best condom quality for men?

  9. I take long to finish when I…
    I take long to finish when I use condom

    1. Hey Osborn, the condom is…

      Hey Osborn, the condom is likely reducing sensitivity on your penis hence making you last longer. This maybe a good thing, it extends the time you have sex and perhaps your partner is enjoying it. 

  10. But condon burst everytime I…
    But condon burst everytime I use one why?

    1. Hi, when condoms are used…

      Hi, when condoms are used correctly they will not burst or break. It is important to follow the correct procedure when using a condom, from checking the expiry date before use. Also, if a condom breaks, take a new immediately you notice. Have a look at the above article for more information on the procedure of use.

  11. The free condoms always…
    The free condoms always burst when I use them. I think the quality is bad.

    1. Hey there, when a condom…

      Hey there, when a condom breaks it usually has to do with the user or how it was used. For instance if one uses an expired condom it is likely to break, or when one uses a condom that was not stored in the correct way. Male condoms are all made from the same material, Latex. Have a look at the following article for correct use of condoms;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/condom

  12. Can this male condom be used…
    Can this male condom be used for anal sex? Will it burst during anal sex?

  13. Condom iliburst during sex…
    Condom iliburst during sex but I had taken P2 about 4 hours before sex. We had sex multiple times over the weekend without a condom can one pill protect you from multiple sex encounters with the same person?

    1. Hi Silvya, first the…

      Hi Silvya, first the manufacturer does not recommend taking the pill before sex. This pill should be taken after sex within the first 72 hours. The sooner one takes the pill more effective it is likely to be. The number of pills one can take depends on the dosage, you get either two doses of 750mg each that you have to take 12 hours apart or one dose of 1.5mg. Have a look at the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/emergency-contraception

      Also, a condom will burst or break when it is not used correctly or when one uses an expired condom. It is for this reason important to use the condom correctly and consistently to ensure protection and prevention of unplanned pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections. 

  14. Are there special condoms…
    Are there special condoms for anal sex?

    1. You are welcome Favour.

      You are welcome Favour.

  15. Do condoms have sizes. Like…
    Do condoms have sizes. Like penis are of different sizes.

    1. Yes, Edwin Condoms come in…

      Yes, Edwin Condoms come in small, standard, and large sizes (including extra large). 

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