Condoms and Lubricant

Different kinds of condoms:

A condom should fit well and feel good. Condoms can be flavoured, often for oral sex. Although oral sex is very low risk for HIV, it is not completely risk-free for other STIs like gonorrhoea, syphilis and hepatitis A and B which can be more easily passed on through oral sex.

Only use condoms which do not contain spermicide for the best HIV protection. Some condoms contain a spermicidal lubricant (nonoxynol-9) and this can irritate and inflame the vagina or lining of the rectum. The irritation caused by this ingredient makes you more vulnerable to infection, especially during anal sex.

Femidoms provide female barrier protection and contraception. They give women the means to protect themselves in situations where a male partner either will not or cannot use a condom and other options are limited. Femidoms can also be used for anal sex.

Only use condoms which carry the British Kite Mark or European CE safety mark, this means they have been tested to a recognised safety standard.

Using lubricant:

When using a condom for penetrative sex it is important to use plenty of water-based lubricant (such as K-Y Jelly) and to re-apply lubricant during sex to prevent the condom from breaking. Never used oil based lubricants such as baby oil or Vaseline as these can damage the condom and cause it to split. Using lubricant alone will not protect you from HIV or other STIs, always use condoms as well.

Preventing condom failure:

Most condom failure can be prevented by using condoms correctly and by using plenty of water-based lubricant for any penetrative sex. If a condom slips off during sex, or bursts or tears during sex then your protection may have failed.

During sex, check that the condom is still on and has not torn. If sex lasts for more than 30 minutes, take a break and put a new condom on.
Only use one condom at a time. Never use two at the same time- this causes friction and means it is more likely to split.

If you are having sex in groups, then use a new condom with each partner.

Where to get condoms from:

Free condom schemes are run in health board areas across Scotland and provide an easy way to find local condom distribution points, for example: Lothian C-Card scheme; Lanarkshire C-card; Glasgow and Clyde Free Condoms. Find these using our service finder.

You can buy condoms from most chemists and supermarkets.