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How do I use a condom?

Putting on a condom can feel a bit awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it quite quickly. It can help to practise until you feel comfortable before you actually use it for sex.

Here is our 5 step guide:

1. Check: There are 3 things you need to look for:

  • Make sure the condom hasn’t expired
  • Make sure there are no rips or holes in the pack
  • Make sure it has a BSI kite mark or a CE mark on the package. This means that the condom has been tested and is very good quality

2. Feel: Before opening, feel for the rib of the condom inside the packaging. Push this to the side so that when you tear it open you don’t tear the condom as well. Check which way to roll it down BEFORE it touches the penis and unroll the condom a bit to check it is the right way round. Check which way to roll it down BEFORE it touches the penis

You should check all this before you’re about to have sex to avoid too much interruption.

3. Roll. Make sure the condom is put on the penis as soon as it is erect (hard), before it goes near anyone's mouth, vagina or anus, to help protect against unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Use your other hand to roll the condom down the penis all the way to the base.

You can place a small drop of lube on the condom for extra pleasure. If you are having anal sex, you should use additional water-based lubricant which you can apply directly to the anus or on the outside of the condom. But be careful because too much lube can make the condom slip off.

4. Pinch. When you put it on the penis, pinch the tip of the condom between your thumb and forefinger to get rid of any air and allow for a little space at the top as you roll it down the shaft. Once it is on, slide your fingers along side to get rid of any air bubbles. You can apply some lube to the outside as well.

5. Remove. After sex is finished, withdraw the penis before it gets soft. To do this, hold the condom on at the base until the penis is withdrawn from your partner’s mouth, vagina or anus, and then take it off, wrap it in tissue and throw it in the bin (not down the toilet) 

NEVER reuse a condom. Always use a brand new condom if you have any sexual contact again – they can only be used once. And NEVER use two condoms together as this increases the chances of them splitting or tearing. 

Some condoms have spermicide on them and these are being phased out because research has shown that a spermicide called nonoxynol 9 doesn’t protect against some STIs (and may even increase the risk). Avoid using spermicide lubricated condoms if you can, or using spermicide as an additional lubricant.

Keeping condoms in your pocket or at the bottom of your bag for a long time might damage them. If the wrappers look damaged throw them away and get new ones. Always check the expiry date: out of date condoms are less effective.

For everything you ever wanted to know, visit our condom page. 

Struggling to know how to discuss condoms? Read our guide to talking about condoms.

Content reproduced with kind permission from University College London's Sexunzipped website.