If you want your condom to work, you’ve got to use it correctly. Luckily, it’s really easy. Here’s what you need to know.

How do I use a condom?

Roll the condom on when your penis is erect (hard), but BEFORE it touches your partner’s mouth or genital area (vulva, vagina, anus, buttocks, and upper thighs) — and wear it the whole time you’re having sex. This helps protect you from STDs that are transmitted through skin-to-skin touching. It also prevents contact with pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), which can have STD germs and may rarely contain sperm that can cause pregnancy.

1. Condoms last a long time, but you should always check the expiration date printed on the wrapper or box. Open condoms carefully so you don’t damage them — don’t use your teeth or scissors.

2. Make sure the condoms ready to roll on the right way: the rim should be on the outside so it looks like a little hat, and it will unroll easily. You can unroll it a little bit before putting it on to make sure it’s right-side out. If you accidentally put a condom on inside out, do NOT flip it around and reuse it — get a new one.

3. Pinch the tip of the condom and place it on the head of your penis. Leave a little bit of space at the top to collect semen (cum). If you’re uncircumcised, it might be more comfortable to pull your foreskin back before placing the condom on the tip of your penis and rolling it down.

4. Unroll the condom down the shaft of your penis all the way to the base.

You can put a few drops of water-based or silicone lubricant inside the tip of the condom and/or on the outside of the condom once it’s on.

5. Have sex!

6. After you ejaculate (cum), hold onto the rim of the condom and pull your penis out of your partner’s body. Do this BEFORE your penis goes soft, so the condom doesn’t get too loose and let semen out.

7. Carefully take off the condom away from your partner so you don’t accidentally spill semen (cum) on them. Throw the condom away in the garbage — don’t flush it down the toilet (it can clog pipes).

You can’t reuse condoms. Roll on a new condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You should also use a new condom if you switch from one kind of sex to another (like anal to vaginal).

Don’t worry if you lose your erection (your penis gets soft) while wearing a condom — this is super common. If this happens you should change condoms. Just take the condom off, and once your penis is hard again, roll on a new one.

What are some tips for using condoms?

Taking good care of your condoms and using them correctly every single time you have sex is key.

Store your condoms in a cool, dry place away from any sharp objects and direct sunlight. Don’t keep them in your pocket, car, or bathroom for long periods of time (over 1 month), because excessive heat and moisture can damage condoms over time.

Always check the expiration date and make sure there aren’t holes in the packaging before opening your condom — you should be able to feel a little air bubble when you squeeze the wrapper. If a condom is torn, dry, stiff, or sticky, throw it away.

Since you have to use a new condom every time you have sex or get a new erection, it’s a good idea to keep a supply around. Have condoms nearby before things start heating up, so they’re easy to grab without interrupting the action.

Most condoms come pre-lubricated, but adding extra water-based or silicone lube can make condoms feel great and help keep them from breaking. Put a few drops on the head of your penis or inside the tip of your condom before you roll it on, and/or spread lube on the outside of the condom once you’re wearing it.

Don’t use anything that has oil in it with latex condoms, like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), lotion, baby oil, butter, or cooking oils. Oil damages latex condoms and may cause them to break.

It’s easy to make condoms fun and sexy — all it takes is a little creativity and a positive attitude! For many people, condoms are a natural part of foreplay. Having your partner roll on the condom, applying lube, and stimulating each other and saying sexy stuff while putting condoms on keeps things hot AND safe. Plus, knowing you’re protecting each other from pregnancy and/or STDs lets everyone relax and focus on feelin’ good.

Practice makes perfect, so it’s a good idea to get used to putting on condoms before you actually use one for sex. You can practice putting a condom on your own penis, or a banana, cucumber, or slim bottle — anything penis-shaped will do! Becoming a condom pro BEFORE you have sex makes it much easier to use them correctly when it really matters.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to use another form of birth control, like the pill, ring, shot, implant, or IUD, along with condoms. It can help prevent pregnancy in case you make a mistake or the condom breaks, giving you extra protection. If you have a condom mishap and you’re not on another birth control method, emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) can help prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Condom

  • 82% effective

  • Costs up to $2

  • No prescription required

  • Put it on before sex

Condoms help protect you from STDs. Use another birth control method with your condom for even more pregnancy preventing power.
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