Condoms work really well in stopping most STIs from being passed from an infected partner to another. Although they are not 100% guaranteed, when used properly condoms are extremely effective. Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
How to use a condom:
- Check the condom packet for the expiry date and for any punctures. Condoms are much more likely to split if they are out of date or in damaged packaging and may not be effective in preventing STIs or pregnancy.
- Take the condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear it with jewellery or fingernails – do not open the packet with your teeth.
- Place the condom over the tip of the erect penis.
- Use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the air out of the tip of the condom, gently rolling the condom down to the base of the penis.
- If the condom won't roll down, you're probably holding it the wrong way round – if this happens, throw the condom away because it may have sperm on it, and try again with a new one.
- After sex, withdraw the penis while it's still erect – hold the condom onto the base of the penis while you do this.
- Remove the condom from the penis, being careful not to spill any semen.
- Throw the condom away in a bin, not down the toilet.
- STIs and sperm are still present in the fluid that may continue to come out after ejaculating, so avoid any further sexual contact.
- If you have sex again, use a new condom. Use a new condom if you’re swapping between anal and vaginal or oral sex.
- If you use a lubricant, make sure it's water or silicone based. Oil or oil-based products like Vaseline or moisturisers damage condoms and will make them split.
- Don’t use spit as a lube – it is not slippery enough and dries too quickly
- If you are worried that the condom has split, or come off you can use emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. If you’re a man who has had sex with another man, PEPSE is advised to reduce the risk of HIV. It is also advised to get tested for STIs.
Tips for Success with Condoms
Condoms can be sometimes tricky to use at first but are completely worth it. With a little bit of practice they are easy to put on and are extremely effective in preventing STIs, HIV and/or pregnancy. Here are some tips to get the most out of them:
- Condoms can enhance pleasure. Most men report lasting longer when they use condoms, which can be an advantage. Textured condoms like ribbed or dotted can be pleasurable for both partners.
- Practice makes perfect. Get used to putting condoms on when you’re on your own. It won’t feel so weird when you put one on for sex with someone else and you’ll be able to do it without losing the moment.
- Be prepared. Keep a condom or two (in date and protected from damage) in your wallet or bag. You never know when you might need one and you can’t rely on partners having one. If you need lube, ask for some sachets from your local Sexual Health clinic or buy a small bottle you can carry easily.
- To increase sensation, try putting a tiny amount of lube on the tip of your penis before putting the condom on. Don’t use too much or the condom may slip off.
- Just like penises, condoms come in different sizes and shapes. Find one that suits you. It doesn’t matter how long they are – it’s all about girth. If they’re too wide or too narrow, they’re more likely to split or come off. The wrong size can also reduce the pleasure of sex.
- We recommend water based lube – however this can become dry or sticky which makes condom splitting more likely. Keep refreshing it with more lube or a few drops of water during sex. Spit can spread some STIs, so avoid using saliva.
- If you’re having sex for longer than 20 or 30 minutes, you should put a new condom on to reduce the risk of splitting.
- Some people are either sensitive to or allergic to latex. Latex free condoms are easy to find now and available in all supermarkets, pharmacies and Solent sexual health clinics. Look for brands like Skyn or Durex Latex Free. Some people prefer them to normal latex condoms.
- If you struggle to keep an erection when using condoms, check you’ve got the right size – tight condoms can make keeping an erection difficult. If it’s still not working for you, come and talk to us. We can help.
- If you’re in a new relationship and want to stop using condoms, get tested first. If you’re in a heterosexual relationship and not planning to have a baby, talk to your partner and our doctors or nurses about other forms of contraception.
Sexual Health Advisors can help if you’re having problems using condoms. Call 0300 300 2016 and ask to speak to the Health Advisor in your area.