Condoms cover part of the genital area during intercourse, and prevent bodily fluids from touching your partner. They are usually made of latex. Condoms are always available free at your health centre or public health office. Condoms are the only form of protection that prevents STIs and pregnancy and that can be used to provide protection for oral, anal and vaginal sex.
Male condoms are worn on the penis and prevent sperm from entering the female’s vagina; they are 86-90% effective in stopping pregnancy. If you use them correctly every time you have sex, they stop pregnancy 98% of the time.
Female condoms are worn inside the vagina during sex and stop sperm from going into the cervix and uterus. They stop pregnancy 79% of the time; if used correctly every time you have sex, they are 95% effective.
Some people may be allergic to the latex in condoms, or the spermicide on some condoms. If you or your partner notice any burning, itching or swelling after using a condom, you may be allergic. You can try polyurethane condoms or condoms without spermicide. You can ask a nurse or pharmacist for help choosing the right ones.
It is important to discuss what you and your partner will do to prevent STIs and pregnancy before having sex. If you are going to have sex (oral, vaginal or anal), condoms (male or female) and/ororal dental damns are the best ways to prevent yourself from getting an STI. However, even if you are using these forms of protection, there is still a chance you could catch an STI because some STIs can only be prevented by abstinence and/or masturbation by yourself.
There are many different options you can choose to make sure you do not get pregnant before you are ready. Even if you are using protection (condoms) and birth control – every time you have sex there is a chance you may become pregnant. Condoms can fail in preventing an unplanned pregnancy if they tear during intercourse or if they slip off the penis before the penis completely out of contact with the vagina. Birth control pills can also sometimes fail if they are not taken correctly or if the woman is taking certain types of antibiotics.
Some of the common choices for birth control include condoms and prescription birth control medication. Birth control medication does not protect you from STIs, so you should still use a condom if you don’t know your partner’s sexual history or if you don’t know if you might have an STI.
In Nunavut, condoms and birth control medication are always available at health centres, most often free of charge. For other forms of birth control, you might have to wait for a doctor or other health care professional to visit your community. Most forms of birth control are paid for through health insurance plans for lands claims beneficiaries.