Condoms are the most popular form of contraception in the world. However, many people do not know much about condom safety and how well they protect against pregnancy and STD transmission.

Within this article, we’ll be looking at how you can tell condoms are safe, how to use them correctly (and incorrectly), and numerous other topics related to contraception safety and effectiveness.

Read on for more information.

Table of Contents:

Which Condoms Are Safest?

Safe

All Condoms Must Adhere to Industry Standards

When purchasing your condom, you need to check they are marked with European and British safety standards. The CE and Kite marks serve as an assurance that the condoms are safe for sex and authorised by the EU and British Standards Institution and satisfy Medical Device Directive requirements.

All products that are stocked by Condoms.uk meet these standards, so you can have sex with peace of mind, knowing you are fully protected from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

The CE mark shows that the product meets Medical Device Directive requirements, covering the efficacy and safety of the condom. This mark is a legal requirement in the EU, without which manufacturers cannot sell their products. This certification includes compliance with product risk assessment requirements, bio-compatibility testing, in-process testing during the manufacturing stage, and clinical data examination.

Furthermore, the Kitemark is a UK-based product quality certification issued and owned by the British Standards Institution. The organisation issues licences to condom manufacturers whose contraceptive products comply with their quality standards. The BSI independently tests all products before the manufacturers can apply the Kitemark to their packaging. If a condom manufacturer wants to continue displaying the Kitemark, they must send a batch of condoms for testing every month.

All products sold at Condoms.uk will clearly state whether they comply with these requirements and industry standards. You should be able to find the CE and Kite marks on the boxes or foil wrappers as well.

If we need to remove products from the boxes sent by the manufacturer (for easier postage), we will include this information in the product description, as well as the impact this may have on the product’s compliance with industry standards.

If you have any questions about our products regarding the CE or Kitemark, do not hesitate to contact us. One of our customer service representatives will be happy to answer any queries you may have. 1

Are All Condoms Safe?

No. While most condoms will bear the CE and Kite marks, some condoms are not verified by any organisations and do not meet the correct industry standards. Typically, these condoms are novelty condoms designed to get a laugh out of customers. While these condoms may make a funny (or embarrassing) present for a friend, they are not suitable for sex as they do not adequately protect against pregnancies or STD transmission.

What Should You Check for to See If Your Condom Is Safe to Use?

You can look for numerous things to ensure your condom is safe to use. These include:

Expiration Date

The number one thing you should check is the condom’s expiration date. If the condom is still in-date, you can trust it to protect you from pregnancy and certain sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, old condoms are more likely to break down and increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies and disease transmission.

Ensure the Integrity of the Packaging

You should also look to see if the packaging is intact and uncompromised. If the packaging looks damaged somehow, avoid that condom and take out a new one.

Check for Defects in the Condom Once Opened

You may also want to look for defects in the condom. For instance, if the condom feels brittle or sticky, it is defective, and you will need a new one. Also, if the condom smells funny, has a strange texture, or has discolouration issues, you should avoid using it. Condoms only work as intended when there are no defects.

Look for Signs of Wear, Tear, or Friction

Do not keep your condom in a wallet or bag, as this will cause unnecessary friction that could damage the condom over time. However, if you are on a night out and planning to hook up, this may be the only place to keep the condom. Check for signs of friction before using the condom. For example, if the wrapper is discoloured or the design has rubbed away, the condom is probably compromised and may not be as effective.

Will Condoms Prevent Pregnancy?

Condoms are the most effective way to prevent pregnancy (apart from abstinence). However, no condoms are 100% effective against pregnancy or STD transmission.

When used correctly during sex, male condoms are 98% effective against unwanted pregnancies. Unfortunately, 2% of people will become pregnant when using male condoms as the only form of contraception.

You can decrease your chances of pregnancy further by using other contraceptive methods, like the pill, injections, etc. 3

Allergic Reaction to Condoms

Safety Condoms

Most condoms are made from natural latex that comes from rubber trees. Some people may suffer a mild reaction to this material. Others may have a full-blown allergy.

What Is a Latex Condom Allergy?

Numerous products are made from latex, though condoms and gloves are the most widely used. Unfortunately, statistically, women are more likely to develop a latex allergy that shows symptoms.

Usually, if you are allergic to latex gloves, you’ll get an itchy rash on your hands and wrists. However, condoms sometimes trigger more painful reactions due to the vaginal mucus membrane’s sensitivity. As such, the latex can enter your bloodstream more easily through mucus membranes than your skin.

If you are allergic to latex, your body mistakes the substance for something harmful; your immune system reacts by fighting off the invading substance, even though there is nothing present. Symptoms become more severe if you are exposed to latex over more frequent or extended periods.

What Are the Signs of a Latex Condom Allergy?

Two of the most common symptoms of latex allergies are swelling and itching. However, if the latex enters your bloodstream, severe side effects may include:

  • Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Itching
  • Watering eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen throat
  • Anaphylaxis (only in the most severe instances)

What Condom Alternatives Are Available?

Even if you have a severe latex allergy, you can still find condoms for safe sex. You should always have alternative condoms at hand if you expect to have sex with a new partner, as they may not purchase latex-free condoms.

Female Condoms

Female condoms are different to male condoms. Rather than rolling the condom over the penis, the woman inserts the condom pouch inside her vagina. In addition, whereas male condoms are usually made from latex, female condoms are made from silicone, featuring a flexible ring for a secure, comfortable fit. These condoms also have a lubricating layer that makes it easier to insert them before sex. Like male condoms, these condoms effectively protect against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies.

Lambskin Condoms

These condoms are made from substances taken from sheep intestines. As such, they are unsuitable for vegans. However, lambskin condoms are the only availble hypoallergenic condom. They effectively prevent unwanted pregnancies but cannot stop STD transmission as the material is more porous than latex, allowing disease microbes to pass through and cause an infection. However, if you are not concerned about diseases, lambskin condoms should serve you well.

If you are vegan or want to protect against diseases, you should choose another alternative to latex instead.

Polyurethane Condoms

These condoms are made of plastic rather than latex. They provide protection from STDs and unwanted pregnancies. However, they do not fit as well as latex condoms and are more likely to slip off during intercourse. In addition, these condoms are usually more expensive than latex condoms.

Polyisoprene Condoms

Rather than using natural rubber, these condoms are manufactured with a synthetic alternative. They do not have the proteins found in natural rubber from rubber trees. These types of condoms typically offer more stretch than latex and are just as effective at preventing pregnancy and STD transmission.

You can browse our entire non-latex condom selection here.

Which People Are at Risk of Latex Condoms Allergies?

Some groups of people may develop a latex condom allergy due to other health factors. These include:

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida affects spinal development. Babies born with this defect are exposed to latex gloves from an early age, which can cause latex sensitivity. If you suffer from this condition, try to avoid latex products such as gloves and condoms.

Many Surgeries

If you have undergone frequent surgeries, you will have been exposed to more latex products than other people, increasing the chances of a latex allergy. Surgeries mean more sensitive areas are exposed to latex, making the reaction more severe.

You Work in Health Care

If you work in the healthcare industry, you’ll use latex gloves and other products on a frequent basis, meaning you are at a greater risk of developing an allergy. Consider using latex-free gloves if possible to limit your exposure.

Dietary Issues

Some studies have shown a connection between food and latex allergies. If you have an allergy to certain foods, you could be allergic to latex. These foods include:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Kiwis
  • Passion fruit
  • Chestnuts

When Should You Speak to Your Doctor?

If you think you are allergic to latex condoms, speak to your doctor. For instance, if you experience discomfort or irritation during intercourse, the first course of action is more lubricant. However, other symptoms (like itching and swelling) may indicate an allergy. Your doctor can test your blood to see if you have a latex allergy. 4

Why Do Condoms Get Stuck or Come Off Inside?

Latex Condoms

While condoms are designed to stay on during sex, numerous factors may affect whether or not the condom comes off or get stuck inside your partner during sex. For example, if you are using the condom incorrectly or bought the wrong type of condom, you may find it comes off more than it should.

You have bought the wrong size

Make sure you measure your penis correctly before purchasing any condoms. Measure from the tip to the base (excluding any extra foreskin) to get your length, and use a tape measure to check your girth size, dividing the number by 3.14 for the width. This should give you an accurate idea of which condoms you need to buy.

You are not putting the condom on properly

If you are putting the condom on inside out, not rolling it to the base of the penis properly, or putting it on before the penis is erect, you increase the condom’s chance of coming off during sex. You also need to hold the condom at the base when withdrawing from your partner. In addition, if you go soft before withdrawing from your partner, the condom could fall off as well.

You may have used too much lube

Many condoms are manufactured with lubrication. However, some people prefer additional lube to make the experience more enjoyable. However, if you use too much lube (and apply it to the shaft), things can get slippery quickly. Too much lube can cause the condom to come off, so only use a drop or two.

You may have lost your erection

Some people lose their erections during intercourse (don’t worry, this is entirely natural). If you have too much on your mind or are stressed, you can lose your erection during sex. If this happens, take your penis out straight away and throw away the condom. You do not want to risk sperm spilling out inside your partner. Engage in foreplay until you achieve another erection, then open another condom before resuming intercourse. 3

Your sex positions may be an issue

If you are trying certain sex positions and finding your condom comes off more often than not, you may need to try some new movies. Alter your technique or avoid that position in future - it is not worth the risk of pregnancy or STD transmission.

Why Do Condoms Break?

There are numerous reasons why condoms break. These include:

  • Your condom is not the right size: If your condom is too small, it will be too stretched too tight and possibly break during intercourse.
  • The condom is past its expiration date: Condoms are made from natural materials that will eventually perish over time. If the condom is past its expiration date, its integrity will be compromised, and tears become more likely.
  • You are using the wrong lubricant: Using oil-based products with your condom (like Vaseline or moisturiser) may compromise the barrier materials, causing them to break down. Only use water-based lubricants with condoms.
  • You put the condom on inside out: If your condom does not roll down properly, you probably have it inside out. If you use the same condom, there will be an increased risk of tearing.
  • The condom may have trapped air inside: If you do not pinch the tip of the condom when rolling it down your penis, trapped air may remain inside, causing the condom to burst during sex.

How Do I Know if My Condom Broke During Intercourse?

Some people ask whether it is possible to tell if your condom has broken during intercourse.

Typically, if the condom has split during the act, you’ll notice sex feels different. If this happens, you need to throw the condom away, use a new one, and get in touch with your pharmacist regarding emergency contraception. Your partner will not be able to tell if the condom has split, so you need to mention if you think something is wrong with the condom.

That being said, some men may not be able to tell if the condom has torn during sex. There is an easy way to check for any breaks after sex. Take the condom into a bathroom and run water into it. If the condom leaks, there is a tear, and you should speak to your GP or pharamcist. If there is no leak, the condom is intact. 3, 5

How to Put Your Condom on Properly

If you want to avoid condoms breaking easily, you need to stick to the following tips.

When having sex, the condom is rolled down over the penis to stop sperm from entering your partner’s genitals, mouth, or anus.

Firstly, the condom should only be put on when your penis is completely erect and before you come into contact with your partner - you may release some sperm-filled precum.

Follow these steps to enjoy safe condom use:

  • Open your condom’s foil packaging carefully so you don’t break or tear the condom when taking it out of the foil.
  • Squeeze the tip of the condom with your finger and thumb to make sure it is the right way round. This will also prevent any air from getting trapped inside the condom, which may make the condom tear during sex.
  • Put the condom over the tip of your penis, keep the tip squeezed, and then roll it down carefully to the base of your penis.
  • If the condom is inside out, it will not go down. Ensure you try again with a new condom as sperm may have already got on the outside of the condom.

In addition, make sure the condom remains in place during sex. If you notice a new sensation or the condom rolls back up your penis, the condom may have broken, or sperm may have touched your partner’s mucus membrane. Stop what you are doing and use another condom. Also, speak to your pharmacist or GP about emergency contraception as soon as you can.

When you ejaculate, keep the condom in place until you are completely out of contact with your partner. This keeps the sperm inside the condom. Only remove the condom once you are away from your partner. 6

Shop With Condoms.uk for Safe and Certified Condoms

Here at Condoms.uk, we have a massive selection of condoms, all of which are certified by the BSI and EU (unless specified otherwise) and bear the Kite and CE marks. We also have various lubricants, accessories, toys and similar items.

If you would like to browse our entire selection of condoms, you can do so here. When you shop at Condoms.uk, we can assure quality contraceptives and accessories. If you have any issues with products, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.

References

  1. https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/blog/Personal-Protective-Equipment-Blog/key-changes-to-standards-for-condoms--are-you-up-to-date/
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/ce-marking_en/
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/male-condoms/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/sex/what-to-know-allergy-latex-condoms/
  5. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/ask-experts/what-do-i-do-if-the-condom-broke/
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/how-do-i-use-condom/