Comparison of birth control methods: Effectiveness of various methods The effectiveness of condoms, as of most forms of contraception , can be assessed two ways. Perfect use or method effectiveness rates only include people who use condoms properly and consistently. Actual use, or typical use effectiveness rates are of all condom users, including those who use condoms incorrectly or do not use condoms at every act of intercourse.
To achieve the maximum protective effect, condoms must be used both consistently and correctly. Inconsistent use can lead to STD acquisition because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse with an infected partner. Similarly, if condoms are not used correctly, the protective effect may be diminished even when they are used consistently. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases STDs , including human immunodeficiency virus HIV , are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. However, many infected persons may be unaware of their infections because STDs are often asymptomatic or unrecognized. This fact sheet presents evidence concerning the male latex condom and the prevention of STDs, including HIV, based on information about how different STDs are transmitted, the physical properties of condoms, the anatomic coverage or protection that condoms provide, and epidemiologic studies assessing condom use and STD risk. This fact sheet updates previous CDC fact sheets on male condom effectiveness for STD prevention by incorporating additional evidence-based findings from published epidemiologic studies.