Condoms are the only contraceptive that protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are also known as barrier contraceptives.
When used perfectly, they prevent pregnancy in 98% of cases, but this is closer to 85% in real life. Other contraceptives have lower failure rates, and you may wish to consider adding another one such as the pill if preventing pregnancy is very important to you.
The most common condoms are the ones that cover the penis. There are other condoms that can be used by women, but these are not available in Malta.
Condoms for men are relatively cheap and easily available in Malta. You can find them at supermarkets, pharmacies and dispenser machines in many bathrooms. You may also get them over the internet, but make sure they carry the European CE or BSI kite mark which mean they've gone through quality assurance. The average cost is around one Euro per condom.
Most are made of latex, but if you're allergic, don't worry. You can buy good-quality latex-free condoms from your local pharmacy.
Store condoms away from direct sunlight and be sure to use them within the expiry date printed on the cover.
They're easy to use:
- Open the packet, taking care not to tear the condom inside. Teeth or sharp objects should not be used. Careful if you have long nails.
- Pinch the tip of the condom between your fingers to push out air and place it over the penis. Roll out the edges gently to the base of the penis.
- After sex, remove the condom while the penis is still erect and make sure semen doesn't spill out. Throw away
the condom in a bin. Now take extra care that the penis doesn't touch your partner's genital area.
- Reuse condoms
- Wear two condoms on top of each other since the increased friction makes it more likely for the condoms to break.
- Use oil-based lubricants. Water-based lubricants, however, are fine.
If you think that there's a chance that semen touched your partner's genitalia, either because the condom broke or it fell off, consider buying the morning-after pill (MAP) as soon as possible and seek medical advice from your doctor to check for any STIs.