Condoms Around the World – Facts, figures, and information

October 10, 2020 3 min read

Condoms Around the World

Have you ever wondered how other cultures approach condoms? It’s maybe not something you’d think about until you’re in another country and need to acquire some. Yet the different trends, accessibility, and even words for condoms can all be worthwhile knowing. With that in mind, we take a look at condoms around the world, and how different countries and cultures approach them.

Condom usage globally

Condom use around the world has increased significantly over the last three decades. According to some sources, this rate has increased as much as 80-90% in some countries. This increased usage has resulted in a steady decrease in new HIV infections.

However, there is still a shortage of condoms around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the gap between the need for them and the availability is around 3 billion condoms. Clearly, more needs to be done to make sure there is enough availability for everyone.

There are success stories to be found, as well. The 100% Condom Use Programme in Asia during the 90s focused on increasing protection for the sex work industry. In Thailand, for example, the programme resulted in an increase in condoms in sex work from 14% in 1989 to over 90% in 1992.

As for closer to home, condom usage varies across Europe. A 2018 survey found that around 31% of women in Finland used the male condom as their main method of contraceptive. In Albania, the number was just 4%. The UK ranked third, with 27%. 

International words for condom

We take the word condom for granted, but condoms around the world go by different names. Although many languages use variants on the term (kondom is quite a common spelling around the world), there are several that stand out:

  • préservatif
  • Smokk
  • coiscín
  • preservativo
  • prezerwatywa
  • презерватив [prezervativ]
  • 避孕套 [bìyùn tào]
  • コンドーム
  • Swahili. Kondomu

You’ll find these terms and many more for condoms around the world, showing what a diverse and carried word it is. Although you’re more likely to find latex condoms internationally, there are plenty of latex-free condoms and even vegan condoms.

Condoms in culture

As we saw with the global usage figures, condoms are very much a part of cultures around the world. We now recognise that condoms are the only form of contraceptive that’s effective at preventing pregnancy and the spread of STIs.

As we explored in our post on a brief history of condoms, throughout history, many cultures have experimented with condom use. Yet there are some barriers to condom use that are seen still. Some people feel that it reduces sexual feeling, while others cite religious or moral beliefs.

Attitudes are changing among different demographics too. The 2019 SKYN intimacy survey shows the difference between millennials and Gen Z attitudes towards condoms. 65% of Gen Z respondents said they used ‘all of the time’ or ‘some of the time’. For millennials, this number was only 54%.

Condoms during COVID-19

There have been concerns about supplies of condoms around the world during the coronavirus pandemic. Organisations such as UNAIDS have been striving to make sure supplies remain available to those in low- and middle-income countries. However, some reports suggest that a global shortage of condoms is on the horizon.

Final thoughts

Condoms are clearly an international invention that has benefited the world considerably. Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find access to these essential products. However, there is still work to be done to ensure they are readily available and used.

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