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Does using two condoms provide better pregnancy protection than just using one?

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Updated September 22, 2008

Does using two condoms provide better pregnancy protection than just using one?

Condoms

Photo © Damon Hart-Davis
Question: Does using two condoms provide better pregnancy protection than just using one?
A common question about condom use is whether or not males should use two condoms during intercourse to decrease the chances of pregnancy. Along the same lines, many people believe using both a male condom and a female condom may provide even better pregnancy protection.
Answer: Although it may SEEM like a good idea, it is not recommended (for either safer sex or pregnancy protection) to use two condoms at the same time. This act, also known as "double bagging," can actually increase the friction between the condoms during sex which makes them more likely to rip or tear. It is fine to just rely on the use of one condom as your method of birth control as condoms are 85% to 98% effective and are not only reliable in preventing pregnancy, but can successfully protect against many sexually transmitted infections.

Also, keep in mind that a male condom should NEVER be used at the same time as a female condom. When used as one’s only contraceptive method, female condoms are 79% to 95% effective. Like its male counterpart, the female condom reduces the risk of many sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. It functions as an extensive barrier that can protect the vagina, cervix and external genitalia.

If nervous about relying only upon condoms, a female could explore the use of a back-up method. For excellent protection against pregnancy and STDs, consider using a condom along with a hormonal contraceptive method like:

A woman can also consider combining condom use with the use of a diaphragm or cervical cap.

If hormonal birth control is not an option, condom effectiveness can also be increased by using the condom with a spermicide. Spermicides are barrier birth control methods available over the counter. Although spermicide is 71% to 85% effective when used by itself, it is more most effective when used with another method of birth control (like a condom).

Using a personal lubricant will also help decrease condom friction and, thus, increase pregnancy protection. When choosing a lubricant, pick water-soluble brand, not oil-based ones. Many couples report great satisfaction with silicone-based lubricants. These tend to stay slippery longer than those that are water-based, are safe to use with condoms, and are a great alternative for those with sensitive skin because they typically do not cause allergic reactions or skin irritations.

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