Having sex without a condom carries risks, including the potential for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Mutual trust and open communication are important for partners who choose not to use a condom.

People might consider undergoing STI testing beforehand and using another form of birth control, if necessary, to prevent unintended pregnancies.

This article discusses the risks of sex without a condom, the steps a person may take afterward, and the circumstances in which people may choose to have sex without a condom.

Sexual health resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on sexual health.

Was this helpful?
A pair of underpants on the floor, representing sex with no condom. -2Share on Pinterest
Andreas Schlegel/Getty Images

Deciding to have sex without a condom is a personal choice that typically involves risk assessment.

For example, people may choose to have sex without a condom if each person in the relationship has undergone testing for STIs and has none.

Additionally, if unwanted pregnancy is possible, a person may decide they would be comfortable having sex with no condom once they begin using another reliable form of contraception.

Partners need to have open and honest communication, understand the potential risks involved in not using condoms, and make informed decisions that prioritize their sexual health and well-being.

Engaging in any sexual activity with no condom increases the risk of contracting STIs, and having penis-in-vagina sex without a condom also increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy.

STIs

Regular testing can help detect and treat STIs early. After initial testing, it is a good idea for someone to have another test whenever they:

  • have a new sexual partner
  • have sex with multiple partners
  • experience any symptoms of an STI

A person may also consider having a test annually, even if they are in a long-term monogamous relationship.

Read more about STIs and how to prevent them.

Unwanted pregnancies

Unless an additional form of birth control is involved, having sex with no condom significantly increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Without contraception, sperm can reach and fertilize an egg, leading to conception. This risk is particularly high during ovulation, when an ovary releases an egg.

Unwanted pregnancies can result in emotional and psychological challenges, financial burdens, and potential health-related challenges for all partners involved.

Learn more

Learn more about sex and pregnancy.

Reasons for having sex without a condom are personal and carry their own considerations.

STI status

A person’s STI status refers to whether they have any STIs and, if so, which ones. Everyone who is sexually active should consider the STI status of people they have sex with.

Knowing a person’s status before sex is important for preventing the transmission of STIs, fostering responsible sexual behavior, and promoting sexual well-being.

Some STIs are not curable, including:

Curable STIs include:

A person with any of these may wish to inform any sexual partners. People can then make decisions about the level of risk and take appropriate precautions, if necessary.

Through the Get Tested website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) help people find free and confidential HIV, STI, and hepatitis testing locations.

Alternative birth control

While condoms are easily obtainable and generally less expensive than some other types of birth control, statistically, they are not the most effective.

Their effectiveness at preventing pregnancy ranges from 79% for internal condoms to 82% for external.

However, some forms of birth control are greater than 99% effective. These include the hormonal birth control implant and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Still, condoms are the only form of birth control that also help prevent the spread of STIs.

Compare the efficacy rates of different types of birth control.

After a person has sex with no condom, it is a good idea for them to have a test for STIs. Testing can help identify any infections and ensure timely treatment if necessary.

If the sexual encounter carries a risk of unintended pregnancy, they also may consider emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill or copper IUD insertion.

It is advisable for the person to consult a healthcare professional to discuss available options and their effectiveness.

PrEP is a treatment program involving counseling and antiretroviral drugs for people who do not have HIV but have an increased risk of contracting it.

PrEP is meant for HIV prevention. It is not a cure for HIV or AIDS and does not protect against other STIs. Using condoms and practicing safe sex methods are still important in reducing the risk of STIs.

Someone interested in PrEP may consider talking with their doctor. Additionally, they can search for their local HIV testing and care services clinic using the HIV.gov locator tool.

Learn more about PrEP.

Consistent and correct condom use is essential for effective protection against STIs and unintended pregnancies. It is important that people do the following:

  • Choose the right size: A condom that is too tight or loose increases the risk of breaking or slipping off during intercourse. Check the packaging for size guidelines and try different options to find the best fit.
  • Store condoms correctly: Store condoms in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Storing condoms in a wallet can weaken the material and make it more prone to breakage.
  • Check the expiration date: Expired condoms may not provide adequate protection against STIs and unintended pregnancies. Discard any expired condom and use a new one.
  • Open the package carefully: Gently tear it with the fingers instead of using sharp objects such as teeth or scissors.
  • Check for damage: If there are signs the condom is damaged, use another one. If people think a condom may have leaked or broken during sex, all partners may consider getting an STI test and using emergency contraception.
  • Use proper lubrication: Lubrication can prevent condoms from tearing. Water-based lubricants are safest, as oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly or baby oil, can weaken latex condoms.

Application and removal

With external condoms, people can follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the penis is fully erect.
  2. For someone with an uncircumcised penis, the CDC recommend pulling back the foreskin before application.
  3. Pinch the tip of the condom to leave a small space for semen collection.
  4. Carefully roll the condom down the shaft of the penis.
  5. Smooth out any air bubbles and ensure it is fully unrolled to the base of the penis.
  6. After sex, hold the base of the condom so it does not slip off before carefully removing it from the penis.

The steps below describe how to apply and remove an internal condom:

  1. Using the thumb and forefinger, squeeze the sides of the inner ring together.
  2. Insert the closed end of the condom into the vagina or anus as far as it will go.
  3. Ensure the thin outer ring is outside the body, and the condom is not twisted.
  4. After sex, gently twist the outer ring and pull out the condom.

If a person has any questions or concerns, they may consider consulting a healthcare professional or seeking advice at a family planning clinic.

Learn more

Learn more about using condoms.

Sexual activity without condoms carries risks, including STI transmission and unintended pregnancies.

After having sex without a condom, there are steps a person can take to help prevent or get ahead of these circumstances.

Using a condom or only having sex with trusted partners may also help people reduce these risks.