Using a latex male condom during vaginal, anal or oral sex greatly reduces the risk of HIV and many other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by reducing the chance of direct contact with another person's semen, blood or vaginal fluids. However, condoms do not provide 100% protection against HIV infection.
The main reasons that condoms sometimes fail are inconsistent or incorrect use:
- Consistent use means using a new condom every time you have sex. Never reuse a condom.
- Correct use includes putting the condom on and taking it off correctly and using a water-based lubricant (like K-Y®, ID Glide® and Wet®) with the condom to prevent breakage. Oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline®), cold cream, hand lotion or baby oil can weaken the condom, causing it to break.
For people who are allergic to latex, male condoms made of polyurethane are available. Polyurethane condoms can help to reduce the risk of getting HIV and STDs during sex. Female condoms are also made of polyurethane. Female condoms and male condoms should not be used together at the same time.
Male condoms made of natural lambskin are not effective protection against HIV and STDs. Lambskin condoms prevent pregnancy by acting as a barrier to sperm, but HIV is much smaller than sperm and can pass through the tiny pores in a lambskin condom.