A Male condom is one one of the most commonly used forms of birth control.1 In fact, more than 400 million condoms are sold in the United States each year.2
They are simple enough to use correctly, but it’s easy to use a condom the wrong way if you’re not aware of the need to check for and do certain things.
A product instruction sheet is a good place to start, but it doesn’t detail everything you need to know to make your sex safer. This article reviews how to use male condoms properly and includes photos of things you should do and avoid.
Check the Expiration Date
The first step to using a condom correctly is making certain it’s still usable.
It’s important to check the expiration date on the condom package before opening it.3
When a condom is old or stored improperly, the latex breaks down. This increases the risk that the condom will be less effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Be sure to assess the integrity of the packaging as well. Toss anything if you notice a tear or whole, or if it shows any other signs of wear, regardless of its expiration date.
Another way to check the freshness of a condom package is to feel for the air bubble.
An air bubble is specifically there to protect condoms from damage. Its presence means there aren’t holes in the packaging and the condom should be intact.
The easiest way to check for the bubble is to gently squeeze the package between your thumb and first finger.4
The foil packets that condoms come in are pretty easy to open, but it’s important to watch what you’re doing.
First, wash your hands. This is especially important if you’ve been touching yourself or your partner intimately before intercourse. If you have bodily fluids on your hands from foreplay, they can contaminate the condom.
Then, tear open the package carefully along the corner or edge (most packaging directs you as to where to tear). Don’t use fingernails, scissors, or any other sharp object, as you may rip or tear the condom along with the wrapper.
Hold the condom up and make sure the side you will place on the penis is the correct one.
The rim should be rolling up on the outside, rather than tucked underneath.
You can unroll the condom a bit to check for this, if needed. You shouldn’t have to stick your fingers inside the condom to do this.
You’ll know you have the correct side if you can roll the condom down over the penis easily.
If you accidentally put the condom on inside out, throw it out and start again with a fresh one.
Pinch the tip of the condom with the pads of your fingers and place it on the penis.
Doing this will ensure that there’s a space for fluid released during ejaculation (climax). Without it, the condom could break.
It will also help prevent air from becoming trapped inside the condom.
Most condoms have what’s called a reservoir tip for this purpose.
(You can skip this step if you are using the condom over a sex toy.)
Unroll the Condom All the Way
Once you have the condom in place, unroll it so it covers the full shaft of the penis.
Doing this will help reduce the risk of transmission of any sexually transmitted diseases that are transferred from skin to skin, such as syphilis.
It also makes the condom less likely to slip than if it is only rolled down part of the way.
If the condom does not fully cover the shaft of the penis, or if it feels tight, the condom is too small. Using a condom that is too small or too large increases the risk that it could fail.
If the tip of the condom feels like an inflated balloon, there’s air inside. Leaving it there could make the condom more likely to break during sex.
Release the air by placing your hands around the penis and gently smoothing out the condom from tip to base.
Sometimes putting a little bit of lube in the tip of the condom before putting it on can help prevent this.
Hold the Condom When Withdrawing
After ejaculation, condoms should be removed carefully before the penis becomes less erect.
As the penis is withdrawn from the vagina, anus, or mouth, hold onto the condom at the base to keep the ejaculate inside. If the condom slides off in your partner, twist the open end of the condom shut before removing it.
If this is not done, it’s possible that the condom could slide off or leak.
Throw Away the Condom
Condoms should be put in the trash, not the toilet (to prevent clogging pipes).
It’s a good idea to wrap the condom in toilet paper or tissue to prevent it from leaking and making a mess. This is particularly true if you’re throwing away the condom in a trash can without a liner.
Condoms are an important form of birth control and an easy way to avoid disease. However, in order to work properly, they must be used correctly.
Remember to always check the expiration date and packaging, and open it carefully. When you’re putting it on, don’t forget to leave room for the ejaculate and make sure you’re unrolling it right side out. Always hold it in place when withdrawing from your partner and throw the condom away in the trash can when you’re done.
Following these best practices can help ensure that the condom you’re using is as effective as it can be.
Condoms don’t just make your sex life safer, but they can offer some peace of mind that may help you and your partner feel more relaxed. That alone can help make sex more enjoyable.
There are also a wide variety of condom styles that have different colors, textures, and even flavors to add to the experience.