When things get up close and personal, the rule is always “better safe than sorry.” If you’re new to sex, or getting back into the dating scene after a long-term relationship has ended, condoms are a must-have accessory.
Remember that condoms are your best defense against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. They are also fairly effective at their original role as a contraceptive device. To properly use a male condom, follow these simple instructions:
1. Open the condom wrapper using the easy-tear edges. These are the zig-zag edges on either side of the wrapper that are designed to tear apart quickly and easily.
- Don’t get carried away in your passion: don’t shred open the foil, and stay away from scissors, teeth, machetes, or any other sharp instrument to open a condom wrapper, or you could tear the condom itself!
- If it’s your last condom and you destroy it, party’s over!
2. Determine which way the condom is rolled. This can be difficult to do, particularly if you’re in the dark. Instead of trying to see which way the condom is rolled, feel it with your fingers:
- Placing one hand on either side, pinch the rolled ring of the condom between your thumb and fingers.
- Gently roll the condom in one direction with your fingers. If it resists rolling, this is not the direction in which you will want to unroll the condom over the penis.
- Gently roll the condom in the other direction with your fingers. If it begins to unroll, this is the direction in which you should unroll the condom over the penis.
- Cautionary tale: don’t unroll more than one roll, as unraveling it will reduce the condom’s efficacy—and make it frustratingly difficult to put on. Re-roll the condom after you’ve determined the proper unrolling direction.
3. Tips up! Make sure the reservoir at the tip of the condom is pointing in the right direction. This reservoir should already be on the outer tip of the condom but can sometimes become inverted during packaging. Make sure the reservoir is oriented so that the rest of the condom rolls away from it.
4. Make sure the penis is fully erect. A condom should always fit snugly over a penis, leaving no tight or baggy spots. If rolled over a penis that is not yet fully erect, it will fit awkwardly and be more likely to fall off or tear during sex.
- If more time is needed for a full erection, set the condom aside with the reservoir pointing up so that you know which way it should unroll. Pick it up again when you’re both ready.
5. Pinch the entire reservoir at the tip of the condom shut.
This eliminates the possibility of creating an air pocket inside the condom when it is worn, reducing the chance of breakage and providing the semen with a place to go during ejaculation.
6. Roll the condom on.
The condom should easily unroll down the length of the shaft. If it turns out that you are trying to put the condom on backwards, throw it away and start over. An erect penis produces fluid prior to ejaculation (called “pre-cum”) that can contain sperm. If a condom has been exposed to this fluid, flipping it over and re-applying it may cause pregnancy and/or the transmission of an STD.
7. Smooth lubricant over the condom if necessary. Sexual lubrication decreases the risk of damage to not only the condom, but also to those having sex. Some lubricants even contain spermicides that can help reduce the risk of pregnancy. If your condom isn’t already lubricated, apply it to both the condom and the other partner, particularly if you are engaging in anal sex.
- Do not over-apply lube, as friction is necessary for stimulation.
- Never apply an oil- or petroleum-based lubricant to a latex condom, as they can cause it to deteriorate. Water- and silicon-based lubricants are both safe to use with latex, but water-based lube washes off more easily and won’t stain your sheets.
8. Check the condom periodically during use for breaks.
If a condom breaks or becomes loose during sex, replace it immediately and consider using emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill. The morning-after pill prevents pregnancy before it happens by delaying ovulation, blocking fertilization, or preventing an egg from implanting in the uterus; it is not an abortifacient.
9. Replace condom if alternating between different types of sex.
If switching from anal to vaginal sex, for example, switch condoms to reduce the risk of infection.
10. Immediately after ejaculation, withdraw penis and remove condom.
Grasp the bottom of the condom with your hand and withdraw, preventing the condom from slipping off or spilling. Do not allow the penis to go flaccid within the condom before withdrawal, as this can cause the condom to fall off and remain inside the partner.
11. Dispose of the condom discreetly.