Condoms are a great way to protect yourself during sex. They’re the only protection that can prevent both STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy at the same time. If you don’t know how to put on a condom, it can seem scary. But you don’t have to worry, it’s easier than it seems! You can follow these steps to make sure you’re putting condoms on in a safe and effective way.
This guide is specifically for using external condoms, or condoms that go on a penis or dildo. However, there are other barriers that can also help!
- Internal condoms go inside a vagina or anus and can protect against STIs and pregnancy.
- Dental dams are a thin sheets of latex that go between a vagina or anus and a mouth for oral sex that can help protect against STIs.
How do I get condoms? Where should I keep them?
Condoms are pretty simple to get because you can usually buy them at any pharmacy! Lots of sexual health organizations like ACCM and university health services have free condoms too.
There’s lots of brands and types of condoms available. Condoms are often made of latex, but you can also find non-latex condoms. Many types of condoms come already lubricated, but some don’t. You can also usually find different styles of condoms, such as larger, tighter, thin/sensitive, and colored condoms. There are also flavoured condoms, but these should only be used for oral sex as the flavouring contains sugars that can cause issues like yeast infections. Name brands like Durex, Trojan, and Lifestyles among others all work in the same way to prevent STIs and pregnancy. Trying out different brands and types of condoms can help you figure out what feels best for you and your partners. No matter what brand or style of external condom you choose to use, they are all put on in the same way!
It’s recommended to store condoms in dry, cool places. A condom is more likely to break if it gets too warm, freezes, or gets squished. That’s why it helps to keep condoms in somewhere like a drawer instead of in your wallet or a car.
How to put on a condom
Before you open the package:
- Check for consent – before you get started, you can make sure everybody’s on the same page. It is important both you and your partners have discussed what types of sex you want to have and are excited about it!
- Check the expiration date. Expired condoms are more likely to break or tear during sex. You can usually find the expiration date and type of condom listed on the back of the individual condom.
- Make sure there are no tears in the package by pressing down in the middle with your fingers. If you feel air, that means there are no holes or tears!
After taking it out of the package:
- Open the package carefully with your fingers to make sure you don’t tear the condom (try not to use teeth or nails to open the condom as this makes it more likely to cause a tear in the condom while opening it).
- Hold the condom so that it will roll down. The rolled-up edge should be on the outside of the condom and the tip should come up through the ring. When you get it right, it looks like a wizard hat rather than a toque.
- If you put a condom on the penis and it won’t roll, that’s okay! Just throw that condom out and start over with a new condom. This way, there’s no chance of having pre-cum on the outside.
- Add a drop of water or silicon-based lube inside the condom. This will make it easier to put the condom on and make the condom feel better!
- Pinch the tip while you roll the condom all the way down to the base of the erect penis or sex toy. This makes sure there’s no air in the tip of the condom. Removing the air makes it less likely to break and less likely that any ejaculate spills out because it has space in the condom to go.
- Put more lube on the outside of the condom for more pleasure. This also lowers the risk that the condom will break!
After you’re done:
- Pull the penis or sex toy out while holding it at the base with your hand. This is especially important if there was ejaculation. It will help to make sure the condom doesn’t slip off and no semen spills. It also helps to do this soon after ejaculation, while the penis is still erect.
- Carefully remove the condom and wrap it in a tissue or tie a knot in it. Then throw it away! Flushing a condom can cause plumbing issues.
- Bask in the afterglow and practice any aftercare if needed!
When should I change the condom?
Using a new condom after each ejaculation reduces the risk of STI transmission and pregnancy. When a penis becomes soft after ejaculation, semen can leak out of the condom. Reusing a condom also makes it more likely that to slip off during sex. So it helps to take it the condom off soon after ejaculation and put a new one on if you want to continue with other sexual activities.
Oral to anal or vaginal sex
Using a condom for oral sex can help prevent transmitting STIs that can be passed to or from a mouth or throat. Since infections can pass from the mouth to the genitals it’s a good idea to use a new condom for anal or vaginal sex if you’ve just given or received oral sex. This also helps keep bacteria from spreading from one part of someone’s body (like the mouth) to another (like the vagina or anus).
Anal to vaginal sex
It can help to use a new condom when you switch between anal and vaginal sex (and vice versa). The rectum has bacteria in it that can cause infections in the vagina. Changing condoms when going from vaginal to anal will also help keep the condom intact and effective. To stop bacteria spreading from fingering, you can use gloves and change them between anal and vaginal.
What happens if the condom breaks or slips off?
Condoms breaking can be scary, but luckily there are things you can do to make this less likely! Using water or silicon-based lube, finding condoms that aren’t too tight or loose, and leaving space at the tip of the condom can all help reduce the chance of a condom breaking.
If a condom slips off inside you, you can try to remove it yourself using clean fingers by making a gentle sweeping motion from the back towards the front of the vagina or anus. If you can’t get it out on your own, then it’s a good idea to go to a doctor, hospital, or walk-in clinic and have them remove it.
A condom breaking or slipping off increases the risk of STIs. Getting tested can help. Since some STIs don’t show up on tests right away, it’s recommended to get tested after 3 weeks, and then again after 3 months. If you’re having sex where pregnancy is possible, you can take the morning after pill to lower the chance of pregnancy.