Condoms are highly effective when you use them consistently and correctly. They are the most effective way to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and are highly effective at preventing pregnancy as well. Used properly, condoms keep partners from exchanging fluids like semen and they provide a barrier against skin contact between areas where sexually transmitted infections are most likely to spread.
Condoms are also widely available and relatively inexpensive (even free at some health departments and clinics). So finding and carrying condoms is easy – just make sure you know how to use them correctly.
Tips on Correct Condom use
- Make sure the condom package label says the condom can be used to prevent HIV. Natural membrane (“animal skin”) condoms are not recommended for STI/HIV prevention.
- Look for the expiration date on the condom package. Don’t use a condom if the date has passed – throw the condom out and get a new one.
- Read the directions to make sure you know the right way to put the condom on and take it off.
- Don’t use a condom from a torn or open package.
- Don’t use a condom that’s gummy, brittle, discolored or has even a tiny hole.
- With latex condoms, never use lotions, baby oil, Vaseline®: or cold cream — the oil in these products weakens the condom. If you use a lubricant, use one made with water (such as K-Y®: jelly or glycerin).
- Use a condom EVERY time you have any kind of sex (vaginal, anal or oral), and use a new condom for every sex act.
- Put the condom on as soon as the penis is erect, before the penis touches the vagina, mouth or anus. Remove it right after ejaculation.
How to use a condom correctly, Step by step
- First, check the expiration date and look for any obvious rips or tears in the packaging.
- Move the condom out of the way and tear open the packaging. Don’t use your teeth or scissors to open the package, since you might tear the condom.
- Hold the condom by the tip to squeeze out the air.
- Leave some space at the tip to hold the ejaculate (cum).
- Unroll the condom all the way over the erect penis.
- If you put the condom on and start to unroll it the wrong way, don’t flip it over and put it on again. Throw the condom out and start again with a new condom.
- After sex, the man should hold the condom at the rim and pull out slowly so as not to spill any ejaculate from the condom.
- Throw the condom away in the trash (not the toilet).
- Use a new condom if you want to have sex again or if moving from the anus to the vagina (preventing the spread of bacteria).