Where can I get condoms from?
Free condoms are available under the Condom Distribution Scheme from:
- the GUM clinic
- the Family Planning Clinic at Le Bas Centre
- Brook (under 21s)
- some GPs
Both male and female condoms (femidoms) are available.
You can also buy condoms from pharmacies.
Condom Distribution Scheme
Are all condoms safe?
If used correctly, condoms are 97% effective in stopping infection and pregnancy. All condoms distributed by the local sexual health services mentioned on this page are safe to use.
When you are given free condoms at these services the nurse or doctor will also make sure you know how to use them correctly and safely, and that you know where to go for help if the condom breaks.
Some condoms that can be bought in toilet dispensing machines and from the internet are not safe to use.
When using condoms, you should always check:
- the expiry date on the packet (an out of date condom is not safe as it will most likely break during intercourse)
- the CE mark (this shows the condom has been rigorously tested and is safe to use by European standards)
- for any cuts, holes or tears in the packet. If the condom packet has been damaged in any way do not use it as the condom itself may also have been damaged and may break easily
- the overall look of the packet. If the foil packet looks worn and battered do not use it - the condom may have been in someone’s pocket or wallet and exposed to heat and friction, which would have damaged the condom inside
What happens if the condom breaks?
If a condom breaks during sex it can be worrying for both people. The best thing you can do is go to the GUM clinic for advice and STI testing.
If you are a woman you also need to consider the risk of pregnancy. You can take emergency hormonal contraception (often called ‘the morning after pill’) up to 72 hours after sex.
The Family Planning Service and the Brook Advisory Service (under 21s) provide free emergency contraception. Brook is a walk-in service, however you will need to make an appointment if you want to go to the Family Planning Service.
You can buy emergency contraception over the counter at your local pharmacy, but it will cost around £25, and you must be over 16.
Alternatively you can have an IUD (otherwise known as ‘the coil’) fitted up to 5 days after sex. However, your chances of preventing pregnancy with these methods decrease with time so it’s important to get to Brook or the Family Planning Service as soon as possible.