Condoms are one of the best ways for people who are sexually active to help avoid sexually transmitted diseases (also known as sexually transmitted infections) as well as help prevent an unwanted pregnancy. However, it is important to know how to properly use a condom, and to use them consistently, in order for them to be the most beneficial.
Condoms can fail or break. Therefore, using condoms in addition to another form of contraception will help to reduce your chances of an unintended pregnancy occurring. Also, having extra condoms on hand will allow you to replace a condom that is torn, damaged, put on incorrectly or if you decided to have sex again.
Some couples find that sex is more enjoyable and comfortable if a lubricant is used. While there are many different types of lubricants available, and many other substances that you can use as a lubricant, it is important to remember that any lubricant that is oil-based can weaken a latex condom. Therefore, look for lubricants that are water-based.
If you are having sex for the first time with a new partner, be sure to discuss the use of condoms with your partner before you have sex.
Types of Condoms
Nowadays, there are three different types of condoms available: latex, polyurethane and natural skin (made from animal tissue). Latex condoms are the most common and inexpensive of the three to buy. However, they are also the type that is most likely to cause irritation, mainly in people who have a latex allergy. Here is how the three types of condoms stack up against each other.
|Latex||Pregnancy and STDs||Natural Rubber||Low||Lifestyles Extra Sensitive|
|Plastic||Pregnancy and STD||Polyurethane||Moderate||Durex Avanti|
|Natural Skin||Pregnancy only||Lamb membrane||High||Kling-Tite Naturalamb|
Using a Condom
It is always a good idea for both partners to know how to put on a condom. While the male can put the condom on himself, some couples enjoy having the female put the condom on the male. Regardless of who puts it on, make sure that nails are trimmed so that there is no risk of accidentally tearing the condom. To put a male condom on:
- Carefully tear open the wrapper. If you are using lubricant, place a drop or two inside the condom.
- If your partner has not been circumcised, then pull back the foreskin.
- Leaving a ½ inch of space at the top, pinch the tip of the condom and begin to roll it on to the penis. The roll should lie on the outside of the condom. Unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles as these can cause the condom to break during sex.
- If you like, you can also put some more lubricant onto the outside of the condom once your partner has it on.
While there are many safe lubricants you can use with condoms, others can damage or weaken the condom, especially latex condoms.
Lubricants made specifically for condoms, including:
Edible oil, including:
Petroleum jelly (i.e. Vaseline)
Vegetable or mineral oil
Hand and body lotions
Suntan oil and lotion
Vaginal yeast infection medication
Taking the Condom Off
Condoms should be removed shortly after sex, before a man has lost his erection. To remove a condom:
- Your partner should hold onto the base of the condom as he pulls out. This will help prevent the semen from leaking out
- Inspect the condom for any signs of breakage or leaking.
- Pull the condom off and throw the used condom in the garbage
When the Condom Breaks
Depending on when the condom breaks during sex, there are different courses of action you can take:
- If your partner has not yet ejaculated, he should quickly pull out, take off the damaged condom and put on a new one.
- If the breakage is discovered after ejaculation, you can insert two applications of spermicide into your vagina as soon as possible; both partners should wash with soap and water to get rid of any semen that may have leaked out. However, it is important to note that this is not a very effective method of emergency contraception and is in fact one of the least reliable ways to prevent pregnancy. Women should not douche.
- Contact your health care provider or pregnancy resource center as soon as possible to discuss STD tests, pregnancy testing, and other options that may be available to you.
Remember to always store your condoms away from sunlight, in a cool, dry place. Also, check the expiration date on your condom package and never use a condom that has expired. If you cannot find an expiration date (usually marked as "Exp"), then check for the date of manufacture (usually marked as "MFG"). Do not use any condoms five years after the date of manufacture. If your condoms contain spermicide, then throw them out two years after the date of manufacture.