What Condoms Do And Don't Protect Against

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By Kendall McKenzie

Hello Planned Parenthood,
I am so happy you guys have a Tumblr — this made my day! Quick question: I’ve been told that condoms only prevent pregnancy, not STDs or STIs. This is a bit confusing to me because I thought condoms protected against that stuff too. Could could explain this to me? I would really appreciate it and I hope you guys are around forever.


That is one dirty, untruthy rumor! As a matter of fact, latex and plastic condoms are the ONLY form of birth control that can also prevent STDs.

While using condoms is the absolute best way to prevent STDs if you’re going to be sexually active, it’s not a 100% guarantee. That’s why we call using condoms “safer sex” instead of “safe sex.” Infections like herpes and HPV, which are spread by skin-to-skin contact, may live on areas condoms don’t provide a barrier against (your scrotum, thighs, or buttocks, for example). So, it’s possible whoever gave you the bad info simply misunderstood this little condom side note.

They also may have been talking about lambskin/animal skin condoms, which only provide pregnancy protection and DO NOT protect against STDs. Condoms that protect against both STDs and pregnancy are made from latex, or types of latex-free soft plastics like polyurethane, polyisoprene, and nitrile. However, lambskin and other animal membrane condoms aren’t very popular anymore. The vast majority of condoms out there today are made out of latex or plastic.

So, don’t believe the “condoms don’t protect against STDs” hype — it ain’t true when it comes to latex and plastic condoms. If you’re having sex, condoms offer good protection against pregnancy, and great protection against STDs. So use ‘em!

Also, thanks for the love. You made my day!

— Kendall at Planned Parenthood
Beyond serving as a go-to source for vital reproductive care, the folks at Planned Parenthood— a team of knowledgeable experts in medicine, sexual health, and law — are passionate, informed advocates for knowing your own body. Planned Parenthood is here to tackle the big issues.