When it comes to sexual health, there are a few things that are considered non-negotiable – consent, communication, and protection. And one of the most widely used and reliable forms of protection is the condom. This small but mighty invention has been around for centuries, but its importance and role in preventing unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cannot be overstated. In this article, we will delve deeper into the history of condoms, their effectiveness, types, and other important information about this essential tool for sexual health.

A Brief History of Condoms

The use of condoms dates back to ancient times, with the earliest record of condom-like devices being depicted in cave paintings from 11,000 BC in France. These primitive versions were made from materials such as animal intestines, leather, and silk, and were used primarily as a contraceptive method. However, it is believed that their effectiveness in preventing STIs was also recognized.

Over the years, the materials and design of condoms evolved, with the first rubber condom being introduced in the 19th century. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that condoms became widely accessible and affordable, thanks to the introduction of mass production methods. Today, condoms are made from latex or polyurethane and are available in different sizes, textures, and flavors, making them a popular choice among couples.

The Effectiveness of Condoms

When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing both unplanned pregnancies and STIs. According to Planned Parenthood, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that out of 100 couples using condoms as their primary form of birth control, only two may experience an unplanned pregnancy within a year.

In terms of STI prevention, condoms also play a crucial role. They act as a barrier, preventing the exchange of bodily fluids, which is a common method of STI transmission. However, it is important to note that condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs. Some STIs, such as herpes and genital warts, can still be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact in areas not covered by condoms. Therefore, it is important to combine the use of condoms with regular STI testing and communication with sexual partners to ensure maximum protection.

Types of Condoms

As mentioned earlier, condoms are available in different sizes, textures, and flavors, making them a versatile and customizable form of protection. Here are some of the most common types of condoms:

1. Non-Latex Condoms – for individuals with latex allergies, non-latex condoms made from materials such as polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lambskin are a great alternative.

2. Lubricated Condoms – these condoms come pre-lubricated with silicone or water-based lubricants, making them easier to put on and more comfortable during intercourse.

3. Ribbed/Textured Condoms – these condoms have ridges or bumps that increase sensation and pleasure for both partners.

4. Flavored Condoms – for couples who enjoy oral sex, flavored condoms are a popular choice as they add a touch of fun and taste to the experience.

5. Female Condoms – these condoms, also known as internal condoms, are inserted into the vagina before intercourse and provide protection against STIs and unplanned pregnancies.

How to Use Condoms Correctly

While condoms are highly effective, their effectiveness can be compromised if not used correctly. Here are some important guidelines to follow when using condoms:

1. Always check the expiration date before using a condom. Expired condoms can break easily and are less effective.

2. Handle the condom carefully to avoid damaging it with your fingernails or sharp objects.

3. Carefully remove the condom from its package, making sure not to tear it in the process.

4. Place the condom on the head of the erect penis and pinch the tip to leave room for semen to collect.

5. Unroll the condom all the way down the penis, smoothing out any air bubbles that may have formed.

6. During intercourse, make sure the condom stays in place and does not slip off or break. If this happens, replace it with a new one immediately.

7. After ejaculation, hold the condom at the base of the penis and gently pull out while the penis is still erect.

8. Dispose of the used condom in a trash can. Do not flush it down the toilet as it can cause plumbing issues.

In addition to following these guidelines, it is also important to use a new condom for each sexual act and to never reuse a condom.


Condoms are an essential tool for sexual health, providing protection against unplanned pregnancies and STIs. With its long history and continued evolution, condoms have become a versatile and reliable form of contraception. By understanding their effectiveness,