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On Double Bagging: Are Two Condoms Better than One?

Winking blue condom protection cartoon

You might have heard that you should never use two condoms at once. This warning against what’s sometimes called double bagging is really common. Most often, you hear that two condoms will rub against each other, making it more likely they’ll break.

But, there’s actually not much research on this either way. One study said two condoms are worse without giving proof, and 3 say it’s better. According to Planned Parenthood’s look at the research, it’s ok to use two condoms. This might even help some people be less stressed, and focus more on enjoying sex. Whatever you choose, there are also a lot of other things you can do to make sex safer!

Who says that two condoms are worse than one?

Many sex educators and sites like Ask Alice say that you should never use two condoms at once. They often say that double bagging makes the two layers of latex rub against each other, creating friction. They say that this friction makes it more likely that both condoms will break , so you should just use one.

What does the research say about double bagging?

There’s one study that showed that double bagging breaks condoms more easily. It said they learned that from websites, and not research. So, this study didn’t give any proof, and it might have repeated a popular myth

Three studies showed that two condoms may be better than one. One study even said it lowers the risk of breaking from 1.8% to 0.2%.  So, even though it’s a popular warning, we don’t know about any evidence that two condoms are worse than one, and there is evidence that double bagging might be safer.

Can I use an internal condom with an external one?

There are two types of condoms. External condoms (sometimes called male condoms) go over the penis or dildo. They’re the most common kind of condom. Most of the time, when people say “condom,” this is what they mean. It’s what we’ve been talking about!

Internal condoms (also called female condoms) go inside a vagina or anus. Many people like these, but they’re less common, and sometimes harder to find.

A few websites, like Go Ask Alice (run by Columbia University), say that you shouldn’t use an external condom with an internal condom. They say that it will increase the risk that they’ll break. But, they don’t back this up with research.

Should I double bag?

Deciding whether or to wear two condoms, one condom, or even no condom is a personal choice. Double bagging definitely exists, and many people have done it. Many people also don’t!

Overall, there’s not a lot of research right now. Three studies and Planned Parenthood’s look at the research said it’s ok to use two, but a lot of places say you should use one.

Whether you use one or two condoms, there’s still a lot you can do to lower your risk for STIs, pregnancy, or both! You can be more protected by using condoms with…

  • Lube
  • Birth control, like the pill or an IUD
  • Pulling out
  • PrEP (a pill you take like birth control to prevent HIV)
  • Vaccines for HPV and Hep A and B
  • Regular STI testing

Learning ways to lower the risk that a condom will break can also help protect you!

More info:

  • The Truth About Condoms – Planned Parenthood

    A pdf fact sheet on condoms: their history, their effectiveness, the relationship between condom use and fertility, their impact on STBBI transmission, and the arguments for and against double bagging.

  • Multiple condom use – PubMed.gov

    A study done in Thailand showing that using two or more condoms at once decreases the chances of condom breakage.

  • The Internal Condom – Ask Alice

    A quick introduction to the internal condom, sometimes called the female condom or FC2. It covers what it is, how to use it, and some things to avoid.

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