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Are You Using Condoms Correctly?

man opening condom package

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock

In this Article:

  • Use a condom to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STDs.
  • Choose pre-lubricated latex condoms.
  • Wear a condom from start to finish during intercourse.

When used the right way, condoms help you steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies. This means choosing the right kind of condoms and storing them safely, as well as putting it on and taking it off correctly. Wearing a condom correctly is 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and is the best way to prevent STDs.

The question is: Are you using condoms the right way?

Choosing the Right Condom

Condoms can be purchased in most grocery stores, drugstores, and convenience stores, and online. Here are a few tips to choose the right type:

  • Buy condoms made of latex. These are the most effective in preventing STDs and pregnancy.
  • Pass on the “natural” condoms, such as animal skin, because they are less effective in preventing STDs.
  • Use lubrication. Condoms with lubrication are less likely to break. Choose a pre-lubricated condom, or apply lube all around the condom before you put it on. Make sure the lubricant is water-based, not oil-based, as oil will break down the latex.
  • Check the expiration date on the package before buying it, as well as before you have any sexual contact, to make sure it hasn’t expired.

After you purchase condoms, store them in a dry, cool place. This does not mean your wallet or the glove box of your car; these hot spots can make condoms defective.

Wearing Condoms Correctly

The most common mistake men make is not wearing a condom from start to finish during intercourse. Putting it on after intercourse has already begun will not protect against STDs or unwanted pregnancy.

Here is the correct way to put on a condom:

  • Open the package by tearing slowly along the side with your fingers. Do not use teeth or scissors. If the condom is damaged, throw it away and get a new one.
  • Once the condom is out of the packaging, pinch the tip of the condom.
  • Slowly roll it over the erect penis, all the way to the base. Leave a half-inch space for semen to collect at the tip.

Never reuse a condom. Aside from being gross, a used condom is likely to break. Grab a new one each time you have sex.

Removing Condoms Correctly

Wear a condom until after ejaculation. Removing the condom before you finish will not protect against either pregnancy or STDs.

Here is the correct way to take off a condom:

  • Right after ejaculation, hold the base of the condom in place and slowly withdraw from the vagina while the penis is still erect.
  • Check to make sure the condom didn’t rip or tear. If you notice damage to the condom, unfortunately, this will not prevent STDs, so get tested by a medical professional as soon as possible.
  • Wrap the condom in a tissue or toilet paper and throw it away in a trash can.

When used correctly, condoms are one of the most effective ways to have sex safely and show your partner that you care about their well-being.

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