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Using condoms correctly and consistently can help protect against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.

Your choice of condom makes a huge difference to how good they feel and how well they work.

If you’re having sex for more than half an hour, it’s a good idea to change the condom to prevent it breaking.


There are two types of condoms, the external (sometimes called male) condom, goes over the erect penis. These condoms come in different sizes, thicknesses and materials.

The second type is the internal (sometimes called female) condom, which is inserted into the vagina/front hole or rectum before penetration. This type of condom only comes in one size, thickness and material.

If used correctly both types provide an effective barrier against HIV and STIs.

Size – for external (male) condoms

A condom which fits not only feels better, it is also less likely to come off or break.
Condoms come in four main sizes:

  • Small
  • Regular
  • Large
  • Extra-large

If they feel too tight, it can be a sign that the size you are using is too small for you.

Try larger condom sizes such as ‘king size’, ‘extra large’ or ‘ XL’ – they are longer and most are wider.

If you find that condoms slip or come off during sex, they could be too big. Try a ‘trim’, ’snug’ or ‘slim fit’ condom instead.

If you’re not sure about size, why not try our condom quiz.


Most condoms are made from latex, which some people are allergic to. If condoms make your (or your partner’s) skin irritated or itchy, then use non-latex or latex-free condoms.


If you do not get the feeling you want from condoms you currently use, you might want to consider changing the thickness. Studies have shown that standard, natural or thin condoms are no more likely to break than thicker ones (including during anal sex). Try ‘extra-thin’ or ‘ultra-thin’ condoms  for more feeling.

Try out a different condom

If you are unhappy or uncomfortable with the condoms you are currently using, order one of our free condom sample packs.  Choose from extra-large, latex free, trim or ultra-thin.

Order a free condom sample pack.

Use lube

Using condoms with lubricant (lube) reduces the likelihood of it breaking or coming off. Sex will also be more comfortable.

DO USE water-based and silicone-based lubes as they won’t affect the strength of condoms. You can easily buy lube at most supermarkets, pharmacists or online shops.

DON’T USE oil-based lubes: these quickly weaken condoms, making them more likely to break.

DON’T USE lotions or oils – including Vaseline, baby oil, hand cream or cooking oils. Don’t use spit either as it dries quickly, making condoms likely to break during sex.

Cut the cost

Get free condoms and lube from:

  • sexual health clinics,
  • some doctor’s surgeries,
  • some sexual health charities.

Buying condoms and lube online is cheaper and there is a greater range to choose from.

Take our condom quiz and find out which condom is best for you.

Find out all the other ways to stop HIV.

Find the best condom for you

Many people don’t know about the different condoms available. You deserve the best experience with condoms you can get.

Commonly Asked Questions

Experts answer your questions on HIV, STIs and sexual health.