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How do I use a condom?

In order for a condom to work correctly, it must be put on following the right steps. It also must be used consistently—meaning, each and every time a person has vaginal, oral or anal sex—and correctly.

“Correctly” means following the steps below, each and every time. When a condom breaks, it’s usually because one of these steps wasn’t followed. Luckily, condoms come with instructions, so you can read them there instead of checking online! There are also several good demonstration videos online to help you. The directions should cover these same steps:

  1. Check the expiration date. This should be clearly printed on the box and on the condom wrapper. If the condoms have expired, even by only a few days, do not use them. The material that they are made of and the lubricants they might have on them can break down over time, which means they’re more likely to break if they’re past expiration.
  2. When you store a condom to use it later, keep it in a cool, dry place, so as not to damage it. In practical terms, this means that you shouldn’t keep condoms in your pocket or wallet for a long time. Leaving them in a car for a long period of time is also a bad idea.
  3. When you are in a situation where you are about to have anal or vaginal sex, open the package carefully (don’t use your fingernails—and don’t use your teeth!), and remove the condom from the wrapper.
  4. Condoms are rolled up when they come out of the package. Therefore, you need to figure out which is the inside and which is the outside of the condom. How do you tell? Hold the condom so it looks like a hat, with the thick, rolled-up part on the outside. As you look at it, you’ll be able to see how you would roll it easily over an erect penis.
  5. Pinch the tip of the condom to squeeze the air out of the condom. This will allow semen to collect in the tip at the top. The condom could break if the tip is not squeezed and air bubbles are let in, so keep pinching it the whole time.
  6. Keep pinching the tip as you place the condom on the head of the erect penis.
  7. Keep pinching the tip with one hand as you roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis with the other hand.
  8. After ejaculation (which doesn’t always happen) grasp the condom at the base of the penis and remove the penis (with the condom still on it) from your partner’s body.
  9. Turn away from your partner’s vagina or anus and carefully remove the condom from the penis. You can tie a knot at the end once it’s off so no semen dumps out.
  10. Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it away. Do not flush it down the toilet.

NEVER reuse a condom.

To practice safer oral sex, you can use a flavored latex condom. There are many varieties of flavored condoms. For oral sex on a penis, follow the instructions above. When ejaculation happens, remove the penis from your partner’s mouth, then remove and discard the condom in the same way as described above.

For oral sex on a vulva or anus, cut off the elastic ring at the base of the condom, then cut the condom open with scissors. The condom will now look more like a sheet of latex. Place it on your partner’s vulva or anus with the flavored side up. There are also latex sheets available, called “latex dams” or “dental dams,” which can also be used for oral sex on a partner.

When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV and pregnancy and also very effective at preventing other STDs. If you are having vaginal sex and the condom breaks, check out this info on emergency contraception.

Do you know how to use a condom properly? Play The Condom Game to test your knowledge!

Have you ever heard of the female condom? It does exist!

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