FAQ about condoms

A condom is a thin flexible sheath made from latex. It is placed on the head of the penis and rolled down over the penis shaft. A condom collects the sperm (cum) that is produced when a man has orgasm. It prevents pregnancy and protects both partners from infectious diseases. Condoms are currently the only contraceptive device available to men.

Do all condoms look alike?
No. A condom can have three different main features. They can come with a bubble at the tip of the condom for the sperm. Some however come without this bubble. Others are shaped to fit the head of the penis more closely. A lot of condoms come in the one size and are expected to fit all penis sizes. Test different condoms until you find the type that suits you best. In other countries condom sizes may vary.

Are all condoms treated with a lubricant?
No. Usually it will be indicated on the condom's packaging if it has been treated with lubricant or not. Lubricant is not the same as spermicide (a chemical additive that kills sperm). Lubricant is used to make it easier for the penis to enter either the vagina or the anus. Remember that the lubricant should be water-based!

How is the quality of the condoms controlled?
The production of condoms is controlled electronically. Random samples of imported condoms are taken. They are tested for strength and are examined to check for holes. The shape, colour, taste and smell of condoms do not influence the quality. Norway makes very strong demands about the quality control of condoms. This varies in different countries. Therefore, take condoms with you when travelling abroad.

Can condoms break?
Even if quality control is thorough a condom can break. Often this can be because the condom is treated carelessly: for example; as it is being put on. Be aware that various oils and creams can have a degrading effect on the quality of the latex.

How do you use a condom?
The condom should be put on before penetration and used throughout sexual intercourse. When the penis becomes hard pull back the foreskin and carefully roll on the condom. Be careful that the thin latex does not tear: for example; from sharp fingernails. After an orgasm the penis gets smaller. Hold the condom tightly around the base of the penis shaft. This is so the condom will not slide off when the penis is pulled out of either the vagina or the anus.

Are condoms a good method of contraception?
If the condom is being used correctly and throughout sexual intercourse it will protect well against pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. If spermicides are used together with condoms the safety margin increases.

Why should you use a condom throughout sexual intercourse?
Because during intercourse fluids seep out from a man's urethra. These fluids can contain sperm from an earlier orgasm. Another reason is that condoms cling more firmly to a dry penis. If the penis has been inside a vagina or an anus before putting on a condom, the condom can easily slide off. As well as this it can interrupt intercourse if the condom has to be put on again. And finally, it protects both partners from sexual diseases which can be transmitted through direct genital contact. One should therefore always use a condom with casual sex partners and even if women use other contraceptives.

Do condoms have side effects?
A small minority experience allergic reactions to latex, and to additives used to make scented or flavoured condoms and spermicides. This can happen to both men and women. If it becomes a problem please consult your doctor for an examination and/or counselling.

Can you use the same condom several times?
No. With each new act of sexual intercourse you should always use a new condom. Condoms have limited durability. Information about a condom's durability is found on the packaging.

Where can you buy condoms?
Condoms can be bought in department stores, grocery stores, kiosks, perfume boutiques, at hairdressers, petrol stations, pharmacies and from vending machines. They can also be ordered by mail order.

How much do condoms cost?
Condoms cost 3-4 Norwegian kroner each and they often come in packs of five or ten. The quality varies in different countries. It is therefore recommended to carry approved condoms with you when you are travelling abroad.

"I think it is very embarrassing to buy and use condoms!"
You are not the only person with a sex life. You are not the only one using condoms. And you are certainly not the only person the lady at the cash register has seen with condoms. Use condoms even if you are a little embarrassed about buying them.

How to use a condom in six steps.