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Safe Sex Fact Sheet

If you are sexually active and are not ready to become a parent, it is important to use birth control to protect yourself from pregnancy.

It is also important to reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.

Condoms are the only birth control that reduces your risk of both pregnancy and STDs, including HIV. But, in order to work, condoms must be used correctly and must be used every time you have sex. It’s important to know, however, that they cannot completely protect you and your partner from some STDs, like herpes, syphilis, or human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. Also, condoms can break, slip, or leak, especially if they are not put on and taken off properly.

The only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is NOT to have sex.

If you do have sex, use dual protection

Always use a condom. Even if you or your partner is using another type of birth control, agree to use a condom every time you have sex, to reduce the risk to both of you for HIV and most other STDs.

Use a condom, plus one of these additional methods of protection:

How do you put on a condom correctly?

When the condom is on, it should feel snug enough so that it won’t fall off during sex, but not too tight.

  • If you accidentally put on a condom inside-out, throw it away and get a new one. You can tell a condom is inside-out if it won’t roll down the length of the penis easily.
  • If the condom ever tears or rips when you are putting it on or when it’s being used, throw it away and use a new one.

How do you take off a condom correctly?

The most common mistake is not using condoms from the beginning of sexual contact to the very end, after ejaculation. Immediately after ejaculation, hold the bottom of the condom so it stays on and semen cannot spill out. Then, carefully withdraw the penis while it is still hard. Once the penis is out, you can remove the condom, wrap it in tissue, and throw it in the trash. Do not flush it down the toilet because it might clog.

What if the condom breaks?

If you feel the condom break at any point before or during sex: Stop immediately! Withdraw. Carefully remove the broken condom and put on a new one.

If the condom breaks, pregnancy can be prevented with emergency contraception. Emergency contraception (the “Morning-After Pill”) works best when it’s started as soon as possible after sex, but can be started up to 5 days after sex.

Remember: Emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy, but it does NOT protect against STDs.

For more information please visit www.cdc.gov