For this method of birth control to work best, you and your partner must be very careful to use both the foam and a new condom together, each time you have sex.

Where can I get foam and condoms?

Foam and condoms are fairly inexpensive and easy to get. You can buy contraceptive foam almost anywhere that tampons and sanitary napkins are sold. Condoms (rubbers) are often sold at drug stores and in vending machines in restrooms.

There are many brands and kinds of foam and condoms. They are all good. Just be sure that the condom you choose is made of latex and that any lubricants you use during sex are water-based and not oil-based. When buying a foam or jelly, be sure to purchase one that says "contraceptive" on the package. Persons allergic to latex may try Avanti condoms, which are made from polyurethane (plastic). (Warning: these condoms may break more easily than latex condoms.)

How do we use foam and condoms?

Learning to use foam and condoms is easy. Just follow these steps:

  • You must insert the foam into your vagina immediately before sex. Make sure you have the foam already inside your vagina before your partner's penis gets close to your vagina.
  • To insert the foam, remove the canister of foam and the plastic applicator from the package. Shake the canister of foam about 30 times.
  • Attach the open end of the applicator to the aerosol top of the foam canister and push down until the clear part of the applicator is full. This should take about 2 seconds.
  • Separate the full applicator from the canister and get into a comfortable position: lie on your back, sit on a toilet, or stand with one foot resting on a chair or bed. Hold the full applicator in one hand and gently guide it into your vagina with your other hand. Slowly push the plunger back into the applicator until the plunger can't go any farther.
  • When your partner's penis is erect, either you or he should put the condom on the penis. Carefully rip open one end of the condom package. Don't unroll the condom now; instead, place it on the head (or tip) of the penis so that it will easily unroll down over his penis. (It's easy to mistakenly try to start unrolling the condom inside out, so check first to make sure it's correct.) Leave about 1/4 inch of room at the tip and squeeze the air out of the top to form an empty nipple for the sperm to collect in. (Some rubbers have a nipple built in.) Never use Vaseline or mineral oil as a lubricant with a latex condom. Condoms can be bought pre-lubricated. Or, use K-Y jelly, saliva, or foam as a lubricant.
  • After your partner ejaculates, his penis should immediately be withdrawn from inside of your vagina. BE CAREFUL THAT NOTHING SPILLS OUT of the condom. It's a good idea to grasp the rolled end of the condom as the penis is withdrawn.
  • If you have sex again soon after, use another applicator full of foam and a new condom.
  • Rinse the foam applicator in warm water with mild soap, if necessary.
  • Throw out the used condom.

Foam and latex condoms also provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Can I use an old condom?

Condoms can only be used once. You should use a new condom each time you have sex. Unopened condoms that are stored in a cool dry place can last for up to five years after they have been made. (Look for the manufacturer's date on the package.) However, if the condom looks damaged or old--or if you do not know how old it is--you should use a new one. Keep a fresh store of condoms on hand so that you will always be prepared. Do not store condoms in hot places such as the glove compartment of your car or in your wallet.

How effective are foam and condoms?

When used together and properly, foam and condoms are about 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Can I use a condom made out of an animal skin?

Condoms made from animal skins, such as "lambskin" condoms, are made from sheep intestines. These condoms can be used to prevent pregnancy but they may not protect you or your partner from sexually transmitted diseases.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/29/2015.


  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Accessed 11/16/2015.Barrier Methods of Birth Control: Diaphragm, Sponge, Cervical Cap, and Condom (
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 11/16/2015.Condom Fact Sheet In Brief (

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