Condoms are the best form or STI prevention we currently have. When put on correctly, a condom is about 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. They’re also highly effective at preventing sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and cervical cancer-causing strains of HPV.
While this is great, it’s important to keep in mind that condoms are not always effective at preventing skin-to-skin STIs like genital herpes, as herpes sores can appear on the base of the penis and balls.
The key word when it comes to condoms is putting them on “correctly.” Condoms are so often put on incorrectly that they’re really only 85 effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs. You don’t want to be messing around with condoms. It’s crucial that if you’re using them, you’re using them in the right way.
Here is how to properly put on a condom.
Pick the right condom.
Picking the right condom is pretty subjective. People like different brands for different reasons. Be sure that for STI and pregnancy protection, you’re using a condom made from polyurethane or latex.
About 1 percent of the population is allergic to latex, so while this is unlikely, it is something to consider. Ask a partner if they have a latex allergy before using latex condoms.
Many condoms come pre-lubricated with lube that contains glycerol and toxins. Because the vulva and vaina are mucus-rich and highly absorbent, we prefer condoms from companies that actually understand and appreciate the need for high-quality products without chemicals for Queen V. Our favorites are Sustain Natural condoms and Lifestyle Skyns.
Keep in mind that these condoms are not more effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs than, say, Trojan—they’re just better for your vaginal health.
Store them properly and check expiration dates.
Be sure you’re storing your condoms correctly. You don’t want them exposed to too much heat or cold, as it can break down the material and lead to breakage. (If you’ve been carrying a condom in your wallet for a few months, it could have broken down.)
And make sure to always check the expiration date before using a condom. Squeeze the package and check for leaks or holes, at this can compromise condom integrity.
Open the package with your fingers. Never use a knife or scissors as you may puncture the condom, rendering it ineffective.
And if a condom breaks during sex, read this.
Lube up the inside and outside.
Before putting a condom on, put a few drops of lube on both the inside and outside of the condom. Most condoms will be pre-lubricated, but this it is usually not a sufficient amount for safety or comfort.
Adding lube to the inside AND outside makes sure there is less friction against the penis inside of the condom and against the vagina (or wherever it is inserted). The better lubed up, the more sexual pleasure both people will have and the less likely it is that your condom will break. Dry condoms break.
You’ll want to use a water-based or silicone-based lube with condoms. Oil-based lubes (like coconut oil or olive oil) are not compatible with latex or polyurethane condoms; These lubes can breakdown these materials, leading to breakage.
Make sure the condom isn’t backwards.
Don’t just go putting a condom on a penis (or sex toy) before checking to be sure you have it on the right way. You’ll want to place it so the rolled edges can roll down. It’s easy to check, simply use your fingers to very slightly check the direction of the roll.
Why is this important? If your partner has an STI, you don’t want to put the condom on the penis and then flip it over. This can expose you to the infection. You also run the risk of a condom breaking when put on the wrong way.
Pinch the tip
Once the condom is on the tip of the penis, pinch the tip. You want to leave some space at the top of condom for semen to expand.
If the condom is put on too tightly against the head of the penis, the condom is subject to break upon ejaculation or during intercourse. Take your thumb and pointer finger to pinch the tip while using the other hand to roll the condom down the shaft.
When you’re finished with intercourse, hold the base of the condom when pulling out. You don’t want it slipping off inside of the vagina or its contents spilling.
Do not ever, ever, ever reuse a condom
Do not EVER reuse a condom. They are a “ONE AND DONE” deal.
There is a very alarming trend wherein people are washing and reusing condoms. DO NOT DO THIS. A used condom is no longer effective at preventing STIs or pregnancy.
Use a condom once, remove it immediately after sexual play, tie off the tip to prevent spillage, and throw it in the trash.