Condoms do protect people against pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs). Each year, 85 out of 100 couples who have sex but
don't use birth control get pregnant. That number drops to only 15
pregnancies when condoms are used. And no other method of birth control
protects people against STDs as well as condoms do.
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 they are less effective against these
two STDs because warts and herpes blisters can show up in areas
that are not covered by a condom.
Of course, the only way to be 100% sure that you won't become pregnant
or get an STD is not to have sex at all (called abstinence). But
even couples who practice abstinence can benefit from learning about
condoms. One study shows that a quarter of the couples who try to
abstain from sex get pregnant in their first year together.
Condoms are easy to get and use. There's no need for a prescription.
Anyone can walk into a drugstore and buy them. Condoms work immediately,
so they are a good choice for people who haven't planned ahead.
For tips on using a condom properly, as well as more information
on condoms, pregnancy, and STDs, see these articles:
Can I Make It Easier to Talk to My Partner About Condoms?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Sex During Her Period?