Condoms

Free Condoms | External Condoms | Internal Condoms

Condoms prevent pregnancy by keeping semen (the fluid that contains sperm) from entering the vagina.

The external condom (sometimes called a male condom) is placed on the penis when it becomes erect. The internal condom (sometimes called a female condom) is inserted into the vagina before sexual activity.

Using external and internal condoms is also the most effective way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), besides abstinence (not having sex).

Consistent and correct condom use are the most important factors to prevent pregnancy and protect against STI/HIV transmission.

It only takes a single sex act to spread an STI, so inconsistent use or nonuse leaves you at higher risk. Incorrect condom use typically happens when a condom is not used throughout the entire sex act, from start of sexual contact to finish (after ejaculation), and can lead to breakage, slippage, or leakage.

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Free Condoms

Rhode Islanders can order condoms for free from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Each shipment contains approximately 10-15 condoms, depending on your preference. The only requirement for requesting free condoms is that you live in Rhode Island. Visit health.ri.gov/findcondoms to learn more and fill out a request.

Many local organizations and some health clinics may offer free condoms. Visit the Find Care in Rhode Island page to find organizations near you.

External Condom

The external condom (sometimes called a male condom) is placed on the penis when it becomes erect.

How effective is it against pregnancy?

  • Typical use: Prevents pregnancy 87% of the time
  • Perfect use: Prevents pregnancy 98% of the time
  • Using condoms correctly and consistently increases their effectiveness. If you use external condoms perfectly every time you have sex, they are about 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.

How to use:

  • Use a new condom for each sexual activity
  • Store condoms in a cool place, out of direct sunlight
  • Check the expiration date on the wrapper or box before use
  • Open the package carefully (teeth or nails can rip the condom)
  • If you are allergic to latex, use latex-free or ployurethane condoms

Pros:

  • Available in many stores and clinics
  • Can put on as part of foreplay/sex play
  • Can help prevent early ejaculation
  • Can be used for oral, vaginal, and anal sex
  • Can be used while breastfeeding
  • Protect against HIV and STIs

Cons:

  • Can decrease sensation
  • Can cause loss of erection
  • Can break or slip off

Internal Condom

The internal condom (sometimes called a female condom) is inserted into the vagina before sexual activity.

How effective is it against pregnancy?

  • Typical use: Prevents pregnancy 79% of the time
  • Perfect use: Prevents pregnancy 95% of the time
  • Using condoms correctly and consistently increases their effectiveness. If you use internal condoms perfectly every time you have sex, they are about 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

How to use:

  • Use a new condom for each sexual activity
  • If you are allergic to latex, use latex-free (polyurethane) condoms

Pros:

  • Gives people with a uterus more control
  • Good for people with latex allergies
  • Available in a lot of stores and clinics
  • Can put on as part of foreplay/sex play
  • Can help prevent early ejaculation
  • Can be used for vaginal and anal sex
  • Can be used while breastfeeding
  • Protects against HIV and other STIs

Cons:

  • Can decrease sensation
  • May be noisy
  • May be hard to insert
  • May slip out of place during sex

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