Condoms provide protection against getting STIs and pregnancy. There are two types of condoms – the male condom and the female condom. Condoms are sold in drug stores and also in many grocery and convenience stores. All health centres in the Northwest Territories will provide condoms free on request. In most schools, middle and high schools the guidance counsellor or a school nurse can also provide youth with free condoms. You just have to ask. With typical use, condoms are 85% effective. Condoms only protect the area they cover. Some STIs like herpes or the HPV virus can still be spread by skin-to-skin contact with uncovered parts of the genital area. However, unless you practice abstinence, using a condom every time is still the best way to protect against STIs. Lubricants can make condoms feel more natural. Only water-based lubricants (these are labeled as “personal lubricants”) like “Astroglide” or “K-Y” are safe to use with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants like “Vaseline” are NOT recommended as they will damage a condom and may make it break. Condoms are best stored at room temperature in a dry place. Don’t store them in your wallet or the car or truck glove compartment. If possible keep them at room temperature and carry them in a purse or jacket pocket.

Male Condoms


A male condom is a thin covering that is worn on the penis during sex. Condoms prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from entering the vagina. They protect against most STIs by blocking contact between the penis and the other person’s body fluids. Condoms can also protect the wearer against getting an STI during oral or anal sex. Condoms are made from latex or polyurethane. Some people are allergic to latex or to the spermicide in some condoms. If you or your partner notice any burning, itching or swelling after using a latex condom you may be allergic. Try using a condom made of polyurethane or a condom with no spermicide. Roll the condom onto your penis as soon as your penis gets hard and before it touches the other person’s body. Leave about 1cm (1/2 inch) of space at the tip of the condom. Put the condom over the end or your penis and squeeze the tip of the to make sure no air is trapped. Then roll the condom all the way down the penis as far as it will go. While you are still hard, slowly pull your penis out of your partner’s body. To take the condom off your penis move away from your partner, hold the base of your penis and slide the condom off. Be careful to keep the semen inside. Wrap the used condom in a tissue and put it in the garbage. Don’t flush it down the toilet. Then wash you penis with soap and water. If you can’t wash, don’t have sexual contact with your partner after taking the condom off. You will need to use a new condom each time you have sex. Condoms have “Best Before” date on the package. If the date has expired the condom is more likely to break. Throw it in the garbage and get a condom that hasn’t expired. You can watch how to put a condom on and take it off by using this link.

Female Condoms

Female condom

The female condom is a thin polyurethane pouch with a flexible ring at both the closed and open ends. The closed end needs to be gently pushed into the woman’s vagina and the inside ring will hold it in place. The ring at the open end covers the vulva outside the body. The female condom stops sperm from entering the vagina. Female condoms are sold in drug stores and occasionally in other stores. You might need to guide your partner’s penis into the condom to make sure it doesn’t slip around the side and into your vagina. You can put lubricant inside the condom to make it more comfortable for both of you. Female condoms are not reusable and remember that male and female condoms cannot be used at the same time. If you are using a female condom, you don’t need a male condom. The link below provides information on how to use a female condom.


Abstinence is simply not having sex with another person. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy. It also protects people against STIs that are spread through genital, oral/genital and anal sex. To be effective abstinence means not having sex all the time. Even having sex once means that you are risking pregnancy or an STI. You don't have to be a virgin to practice abstinence. Some people who have had sex already decide not to continue to have sex. Abstinence does not prevent getting people from getting HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B infections from non sex activities like using contaminated needles for doing drugs or tattooing.


Nurse photo

It is important to discuss the contraceptive methods you will use with your partner. Here are two great links written by medical professionals: Talking About Contraception and Contraceptive Methods If you have sex without using birth control you can still prevent pregnancy by taking an ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Pill). These are sometimes called “Morning-After Pills” or “Plan B”. An ECP works best if it is taken within 3 days after having unprotected sex. An ECP is not an abortion pill. It prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus and as a result it prevents the woman from becoming pregnant. An ECP will not prevent you from getting an STI. You can buy and an ECP with or without a prescription. The Morning After Pill or “Plan B” is also available at the STI Clinic in Yellowknife, all NWT Health Centers & in some cases, through the school nurse. If you go to the drug store without a prescription ask if you can speak to the pharmacist privately. Tell him/her “I need an ECP.” They will ask you a few questions before letting you buy it. They will also give you information to help you use the ECP in the right way. You do not need your parents’ permission to get an ECP. An Emergency Contraceptive Pill is NOT an abortion pill. If you take an ECP you will not be terminating the pregnancy. If you are already pregnant and you take the ECP there is no evidence that ECP will harm you or the fetus. The link below provides more information on emergency contraception: