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A hand holding a condom in a packet with a blurred image of a teenage boy behind

Also known as...

Rubber, Sheath, Johnny, Durex, French Letter, Japanese Wrinkle

How do they work?

It's a stretchy rubber tube, which unrolls over the bloke's penis. The sperm all get caught in it and can't swim anywhere.

Where can you get them?

  • at the chemists
  • in some toilets
  • Brook Advisory Centres - 0808 802 1234 for your nearest
  • any family planning clinic- 0845 122 8690
  • other young people's clinics


  • Makes sex less messy.
  • You only use it when you have sex, not every day.
  • Protects you from AIDS, chlamydia and other nasty sexual infections like herpes.
  • Also protects girls against cancer of the cervix.
  • Easy and cheap. Less than 75p each from if you buy them yourself. Or free from clinics like the Brook Centres
  • Lots of choice- different sizes, latex free etc.


  • They are slippery.
  • Can split if your fingernails are sharp.
  • Don't work if used with certain oils or vaseline as these make the condom split
  • 2-minute condom 'breaks' can be a turn-off (not if she puts it on him, though).
  • Not too 'sensitive' but improving.
  • They don't flush down the loo afterwards but try putting some lav paper down with them.

The oops factor or failure rate

If used perfectly the failure rate is 2% but with typical use this increases to 15%.