Short-acting contraception


Where can I buy condoms from?

Condoms are inexpensive and can easily be purchased from pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations and vending machines. They are also available from sexual health clinics or your doctor.

What else do I need to know about condoms?

While condoms are readily available and you can purchase them in assorted sizes, colours, textures and quantities, some feel they can reduce spontaneity. It is important to always use a new condom every time you have sex and never re-use condoms. Always check the expiry date of the condoms, being sure to never use condoms that have expired. If you wish to use additional lubricant, only use water based lubricants designed for use with a condom (such as KY jelly). Don’t use oil based lubricants such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or massage oil as these will damage the condom. Condoms can be used as a back-up method for other contraceptives if you find yourself in a position where the effectiveness of your original contraceptive has been compromised.

How do I use a condom?

Carefully tear open the foil packaging (don't use your teeth), making sure not to rip the latex condom inside. Before any contact is made between the penis and the vagina place the condom at the head of the erect penis. Squeeze the tip of the condom between your thumb and forefinger to prevent air being trapped and unroll the condom all the way to the base of the erect penis.
After ejaculation, withdraw the penis while it is still erect, holding the condom firmly in place at the base of the penis. Slide the condom off the penis, taking care not to spill any semen or to allow the penis to come into contact with the vagina. Although very rare, it is always good practice to check that the condom did not break before disposing of the used condom hygienically– don’t flush it down the toilet.
Some people will have condom accidents occasionally but if you find this is happening frequently consider another type of condom or changing your technique.

How effective is a condom?

When used correctly, every single time you have sex, condoms can be 98% effective as a contraceptive method. Allowing for mishaps, typical failure rates are probably around 15%.

What is a condom?

The male condom is a thin, strong, latex rubber or polyurethane sheath that is rolled onto the erect penis before sex. They act as a physical barrier preventing semen from entering the vagina and thereby preventing pregnancy, but also decreasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections, especially those that are passed on by bodily fluids (semen, vaginal secretions) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and hepatitis B. Latex sensitivity occurs in a small number of men and women but non-latex condoms are also available.

What is the female condom?

The female condom is a disposable thin polyurethane plastic sheath designed to line the inside of the vagina and prevent sperm from entering. The female condom sheath has two rings: the inner and outer ring. The inner ring inside the sheath helps to insert the condom similarly to a tampon. The outer ring, at the opening of the sheath, remains outside the vagina, and is pushed flat against the labia.
A female condom can be put in any time before sex and has many of the advantages of the male condom, as well as being stronger. Also, because the female condom lines the inside of the vagina, the penis does not have to be withdrawn immediately after ejaculation. It is especially good for women who suffer from allergic reactions to the spermicidal lubricants used with condoms. You need to be sure that the penis enters the condom and isn’t inserted between the condom and the vaginal wall. If used correctly the female condom is 95% effective.

What is a diaphragm?

A diaphragm (also known as a cap) is a circular dome made of rubber, which is fitted over her cervix before sex. It acts as a barrier to stop sperm getting through to the uterus. It should be used with a spermicide cream, jelly or pessaries, which contain a chemical that destroys sperm. The diaphragm must stay in place for six hours after sex. More spermicide must be inserted again if you have sex before this time is up. Spermicides may cause irritation or an allergic reaction in some women.
A doctor or nurse will need to fit a diaphragm initially to check what size you need and teach you how to use it; but after the initial fitting you will be able to insert and remove the diaphragm each time you have sex. The diaphragm does not affect your menstrual cycle and it may protect against cancer of the cervix. Like other barrier methods, you need only use it when you are sexually active. It may protect against cancer of the cervix, however it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV/AIDS.
If used correctly the diaphragm is 95% effective.