Do Condoms Really Work?

Do Condoms Really Work?

I've heard condoms don't really protect against pregnancy and STDs. So why bother using them?
- David*

Condoms do help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Each year, 85 out of 100 couples who have sex but don't use any form of birth control get pregnant. That number drops to only 15 out of 100 when condoms are used. And no other method of birth control is as successful at protecting people against STDs as condoms.

Condoms are most effective at protecting against STDs like HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Condoms can also protect against genital warts (HPV) and herpes, but are less effective against these because warts and herpes can show up in areas that are not covered by a condom.

The only way to be 100% sure that you won't become pregnant or get an STD is to not have sex at all (called abstinence). But even couples who practice abstinence can benefit from learning about condoms.

Condoms are easy to get and use. Anyone can walk into a drugstore and buy them. It's a good idea to have a condom readily available because they're a good birth control choice for people who haven't planned ahead.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





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Related Resources
Web SitePlanned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.
Web SiteAmerican Social Health Association This nonprofit organization is dedicated to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and offers hotlines for prevention and control of STDs.
Web SiteNational Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy This site provides teen pregnancy facts, resources, and prevention tips.
Web SitePlanned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.
Web SiteGYT - Get Yourself Talking and Get Yourself Tested This media campaign designed to get young people to talk with their health care providers and partners about the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
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