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If you use them the right way every time you have sex, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. But it’s important to educate yourself about how to use them the right way.


Condoms can also help prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) you can get through body fluids, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contacts, like human papillomavirus or HPV (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis.

There are two main types of condoms: male and female.


Male Condoms

  • A male condom is a thin layer of latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, or natural membrane worn over the penis during sex. Male Condom Dos and Don'ts.

  • Latex condoms provide the best protection against HIV. Polyurethane (plastic) or polyisoprene (synthetic rubber) condoms are good options for people with latex allergies, but plastic ones break more often than latex ones. Natural membrane (such as lambskin) condoms have small holes in them, so they don’t block HIV and other STDs.

  • Use water- or silicone-based lubricants to lower the chances that a condom will break or slip during sex. Don’t use oil-based lubricants (for example, Vaseline, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and cooking oil) with latex condoms because they can weaken the condom and cause it to break. Don’t use lubricants containing nonoxynol-9. It irritates the lining of the vagina and anus and increases the risk of getting HIV.


Female Condoms

  • A female condom is a thin pouch made of a synthetic latex product called nitrile. It’s designed to be worn by a woman in her vagina during sex. Female Condom Dos and Don'ts.

  • When worn in the vagina, female condoms are comparable to male condoms at preventing HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy. Some people use female condoms for anal sex. We don’t currently know how well female condoms prevent HIV and other STDs when used by men or women for anal sex. But we do know that HIV can’t travel through the nitrile barrier.

  • It is safe to use any kind of lubricant with nitrile female condoms.


Even if you use condoms the right way every time you have sex, there’s still a chance of getting HIV. For some individuals at high risk of getting or transmitting HIV, adding other prevention methods, like taking medicines to prevent and treat HIV, can further reduce their risk.




Dental Dams

Dental dams are placed over the vagina, clitoris, and anus to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STDs during oral sex. It is sometimes referred to as a latex barrier. We recommend that you use a dental dam when you go down on a woman or when a male and/or female partner goes down on you.

There are a lot of dental dams on the market and some women use Saran Wrap as well. However, only one, the Glyde dental dam, has been approved by the FDA for STD prevention. If you are using a lube to go down on a woman, remember: lube on one side of the barrier and tongue on the other.

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