Can Condoms Prevent HPV?

HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, especially vaginal, anal, and oral sex. While most types of HPV don’t cause any symptoms or health problems, there are some high-risk HPV types that are known to cause cancer. With HPV being the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, it’s important to take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected. Find out more about how condoms can aid in HPV prevention.

HPV Condom Effectiveness

Condoms are recommended as one of the ways to help prevent HPV infections. By wearing a condom every time you have sex, you can reduce the risk of HPV spreading from one person to another. It’s important to wear a condom from start to finish since any skin-to-skin contact with an infected area could cause the virus to spread. Male condoms are the most common option, but you can also consider using female condoms or dental dams as other barriers against infection.

It’s unclear exactly how effective condoms are at protecting against HPV. While they do reduce the risk of infection, the level of protection is lower than that which condoms provide for many other STIs. Diseases like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are spread through urethral or vaginal secretions, so condoms are much more effective at preventing the spread of these infections.

Can You Still Get HPV If You Use a Condom?

Condoms are not 100% effective at preventing HPV transmission because they don’t cover the entire genital area. You’re still exposed to potentially infected areas of skin even when a condom is used during sex. Limiting your number of sex partners and getting the HPV vaccine can also help lower your risk of infection.

Tips for Using Condom

To make condoms as effective as possible, make sure you’re using them the right way. The following are some tips for using condoms correctly during sex:

  • Put the condom on before any genital, anal, or oral contact takes place.
  • Don’t apply any oil-based products (baby oil, petroleum jelly, lotion, etc.) since they may cause the condom to break.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t store condoms in a wallet since it could damage them.
  • Don’t use expired condoms.
  • Don’t reuse condoms.

Use condoms every time you have sex. In addition to reducing your risk for HPV, condoms protect against a number of other STIs.

Sources
  1. HPV and HPV Testing: American Cancer Society, 2019
  2. Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013
  3. Male Condom Use: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016