How to use condoms

Use condoms with a new partner until you are certain that person does not have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Use a condom whenever you have vaginal intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. Even if you are protected against pregnancy by birth control pills or another method, use condoms to help prevent STDs.

The condom can be put on a man's penis as part of foreplay.

Condom use is most effective if you follow these steps:

  • Check the condom for an expiration date. Throw away any condoms that have passed the expiration date.
  • Unwrap the condom carefully to avoid poking tiny holes in it with your fingernails.
  • Put the condom on as soon as the man's penis is hard (erect), before sexual intercourse begins.
  • If the man has not been circumcised, pull down the loose skin from the head of the penis.
  • Hold the tip of the condom and squeeze out the air. This leaves room for the semen when the man ejaculates. Also, the condom is less likely to break if all the air has been squeezed out.
  • Keep holding the tip of the condom. Unroll it onto the erect penis, all the way down to the pubic hair.
  • You can use a lubricant on the outside of the condom after it is completely on. Use lubricants like Astroglide, Slippery Stuff, or K-Y Jelly, which do not contain oil. Never use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), grease, hand lotion, baby oil, or anything else with oil in it. Oil can weaken latex rubber and cause the condom to break. Read the label to be sure that a lubricant does not have oil in it.
  • After the man ejaculates, he should press on the bottom of the condom (by the hairline) and pull out while his penis is still hard. This will keep semen from spilling out of the condom.
  • Take off the condom and throw it away. Use a new condom each time you have sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex.
  • Wash your hands after handling a used condom.

Another type of condom is available for females to wear. The female condom is a thin plastic pouch that lines the vagina. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring at the open end remains outside the opening of the vagina. Like the male condom, it should only be used one time.

The female condom may provide slightly better protection from sexually transmitted diseases than a male condom, because it covers more of the external genitals. But it is not as effective for preventing pregnancy.

Last Updated: September 30, 2009

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