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How to Put on A Condom: A Step by Step Guide

Winking blue condom protection cartoon

Condoms are a great way to protect yourself during sex. They’re the only protection that can prevent 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 for using external condoms, or condoms that go on a penis or dildo. 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.

How do I get condoms? Where should I keep them?

Condoms are pretty simple to get, you can 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. Name brands like Durex, Trojan, Lifestyles, etc. will all be about as good at preventing STIs and pregnancy. You can try out different brands can help you figure out what feels best for you and your partners. How to put on a condom is also the same for every brand!

It’s recommended to store condoms in dry, cool spaces. A condom is more likely to break if it gets too warm, freezes, or gets squished. That’s why it helps to keep condoms somewhere like in a drawer instead of in your wallet or a car.

How to put on a condom

Before you open the package:

  1. Check the expiration date. Expired condoms are more likely to break during sex.
  2. 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!
  3. Check for consent – now can be a great time to stop and make sure everybody’s excited for what’s about to happen!

After taking it out of the package:

  1. Open the package carefully with your fingers to make sure you don’t tear the condom.
  2. 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.
    • 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.
  3. 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 use feel better!
  4. Pinch the tip while you roll the condom all the way down to the base of the erect penis or sex toy. If you put on a condom this way, it has no air in the tip, making it less likely to break.
  5. 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: 

  1. Pull the penis or sex toy out while holding the 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.
  2. 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.

When should I change the condom?

After ejaculation

Using a new condom after each ejaculation reduces the risk of STI transmission and pregnancy. When a penis becomes soft after ejaculation, semen can slip around the edges.This also makes it more likely that the condom will slip off during sex.  So it helps to take it off soon after.

Oral to anal or vaginal sex

Using a condom for oral sex can help prevent transmitting certain 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. 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). This will help protect against infections from bacteria, as well as STIs and pregnancy. 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, luckily there are things you can do to make this less likely! Using water or silicon-based lube, finding condoms that feel comfortable and leaving space at the tip of the condom can all help reduce the chance of a condom breaking.

If a condom slips off during sex and you’re in pain or feel really uncomfortable, you can go to the hospital to have it removed by a doctor. If there’s no pain, 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

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.

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