How to Use a Condom

Facts about How to Put on a Condom

Picture of a woman pulling a condom out of her pocket.
Condoms are one of the most popular and affordable forms of birth control.
  • Among the many barrier methods of birth control, the condom for men is used most often.
  • Both male and female condoms are reviewed here.
  • Condoms are inexpensive and available in many convenient locations, without a doctor's prescription.
  • In addition to preventing pregnancy, if used properly, a condom may also protect users from infecting a sex partner with a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Although no form of birth control is 100% effective, the condom can be quite effective if it is put on correctly.

The Male Condom Advantanges

A condom is a thin sheath placed over an erect penis. A condom worn by a man prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the vagina. A condom can be worn only once.

Condoms are one of the most popular and affordable forms of birth control. You can buy condoms at most drugstores and grocery stores, and dispensers can often be found in public restrooms. Condoms are also called rubbers. Some organizations distribute free condoms.

Condoms made from latex are the best at preventing pregnancy. They also protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and herpes.

Condom Preparation Before Sex Tips

  • Talk with your sexual partner about using birth control before you have sex. If preventing pregnancy is your goal, make sure you or your partner or both are using some form of birth control.
  • If you use condoms, have a supply available, even if you also use another form of birth control. It's important to have more than one condom because the condom may break when you put it on. Also, because condoms can only be used once, you may need more than one if you have sex more than once.
  • Some people are allergic to latex. If this is the case, choose a condom made from another substance. However, other substances may not be as protective against sexually transmitted diseases as latex.

Using Condom for Sex Tips

  • The male partner should put on a condom before his penis touches his partner's vagina.
  • Remove the condom from its package. Be careful not to tear it accidentally with a fingernail or other sharp object (such as your teeth) when opening the package. Take care not to poke a hole in the condom while taking it out of the wrapper.
  • If the condom has a little receptacle (small pouch) at the tip of it (to collect semen), begin rolling the condom onto the penis with the receptacle left empty so that semen can fill it. Be sure to squeeze the air out of the receptacle end. Place the condom against the tip of the penis and carefully roll the sides down the shaft of the erect penis. The rolled ring should be on the outside of the condom. If the condom does not unroll easily, it may be upside down. If you find you are rolling it on incorrectly, throw it away and try another so you don't expose your sexual partner to germs.
  • If there is not a receptacle at the tip of the condom, be sure to leave a little space between the condom and the end of the penis. Otherwise, the semen could push up the sides of the condom and come out at the base of it before the penis and condom are withdrawn. Be sure to squeeze the air out of the tip of the condom so there is not any air between the penis and the condom. This leaves room for semen. Air left in the tip can cause the condom to break.
  • Some people find it helpful to unroll the condom a little before putting it on the penis. This leaves plenty of room for semen collection and prevents the condom from being stretched too tightly over the penis.
  • If the penis is uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back before putting on the condom.
  • Keep the condom in place on the penis until after intercourse or after the male has ejaculated.

Condom Use During Sex

  • If you and your partner use a lubricant, use only water-based lubricants such as water on latex condoms. Lubricants help reduce friction and prevent the condom from tearing. Lubricating jellies that are okay to use with latex condoms are brand names such as KY Jelly or Astroglide. Oil-based lubricants such as creams, mineral oil, Vaseline petroleum jelly, baby oil, and body and massage lotions can damage the latex condoms and make them ineffective.
  • If you are using plastic condoms (read the label), you can use any lubricant.
  • If the condom breaks or falls off before ejaculation, stop. Put on a new condom. You should also use a new condom if you are having different types of intercourse, such as vaginal and then anal.
  • Never reuse a condom.
  • After ejaculation, the condom must be removed. The best way is to grasp the condom at the base of the penis and hold it as the penis is withdrawn while it is still erect to prevent the condom from slipping or leaking semen.

Condom Disposal After Sex

  • Check the condom to make sure it has no holes in it and still contains semen if there was ejaculation.
  • If the condom has broken or fallen off during sex or has leaked, discuss the possibility of pregnancy or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases (STD) with your partner. See your healthcare professional. A woman may wish to use emergency contraception (birth control pills taken to prevent pregnancy). Emergency contraception should be used within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Wash your sexual organs with soap and water right away to help reduce the risk of getting an STD. A woman may wish to insert an applicator of spermicide into her vagina as soon as possible.
  • Condoms can certainly break or fall off during use, but studies show that this rarely happens if used properly
  • Wrap the used condom in tissue or put it inside a plastic baggie and throw it in the garbage that will not be discovered by children or animals or pose a health hazard to others. Do not flush condoms down the toilet. Condoms can clog the toilet.

Storing Condoms

  • Keep condoms in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight, such as your bedroom night stand (not medicine cabinet). Your wallet or car is too hot for storing condoms. If you do carry a condom in your wallet for convenience, replace it often. Opening and closing your wallet, not to mention the pressure from sitting on it, will weaken the condom. However, it's better to use a condom that has been in your wallet for a long time than not to use one at all.
  • Check expiration dates on the box of condoms. You may see the package marked with “Exp,” showing the expiration date, or “MFG,” the manufacture date. Do not use condoms beyond the expiration date or more than 5 years after the manufacture date. Old condoms can become dry and break more easily. Brittle, sticky, or discolored condoms are old and may break.

Condom Effectiveness

The failure rate of condoms in couples who use them consistently and correctly during the first year of use is estimated to be quite low. However, the true failure rate is estimated to be about 14%. This marked difference in failure rates reflects errors in how they are used.

  • Some couples fail to use condoms every time they have sexual intercourse.
  • Condoms may fail (break or come off) if you use the wrong type of lubricant. (For example, using an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom will cause it to fall apart.)
  • The condom may not be placed properly on the penis. Also, the man may not use care when withdrawing.

The Female Condom

The female condom (brand name: Reality) is a polyurethane pouch intended for 1-time use, similar to the male condom. It contains 2 flexible rings and measures 7.8 cm in diameter and 17 cm long. You can buy them at a drugstore without a prescription. The ring at the closed end of the sheath serves as an insertion mechanism and internal anchor that is placed inside a woman's vagina just before sex. The other ring forms the external edge of the device and remains outside of the vagina after insertion. With your finger, push the inner ring as far into the vagina as it will go. The outer ring stays outside the vagina.

  • The female condom prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the vagina.
  • Do not have a male partner use a condom at the same time because the condoms may stick to each other, leading to slippage or displacement of either device. If you have a choice, use a male condom for better protection.
  • You may add lubricant to the inside of the condom. After sex, remove the condom gently by pulling it out before standing up.

Dental Dams

A dental dam is a small sheet of latex. These were originally used by dentists during dental surgery. Dental dams can be used to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids during oral sex and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Dental dams are about 7 inches by 6 inches in size.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Different condoms

Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Medical Authors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.and Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad St?ppler, MD

Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are

  • highly effective in preventing

    transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including discharge and genital ulcer diseases.
While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.

There are two primary ways that STDs can be transmitted...

Samra-Latif, Omnia M. and Richard Scott Lucidi. "Contraception." 24 Aug. 2011.