How to use a condom

Condoms are a barrier method of contraception –  they prevent the transfer of bodily fluids.

A barrier method of contraception uses a physical barrier to prevent the sperm from getting to the egg. It also prevents body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid…) from being transferred between sexual partners, and so helps to protect against most STIs. The male condom is the most common type of barrier method of contraception. A condom is a thin, flexible piece of material (which looks a bit like a balloon), which is usually made of latex, but non-latex options are also available.

It is placed over the erect penis and is worn for the duration of intercourse. There is a small reservoir at the top of the condom where the semen is held after ejaculation. This prevents the semen entering the vagina, and then the cervix to fertilise an egg. Condoms do not only prevent pregnancy – because they prevent the transfer of bodily fluids, they are effective at preventing the spread of STIs. STIs can be passed from person to person not only through vaginal sex, but also anal and oral sex. No matter what sexual act you are taking part in, it is always a good idea to use a condom! Flavoured condoms are designed for oral sex, and come in every flavour you can imagine! Flavoured condoms should never be used for vaginal or anal sex.

Before you put a condom on you must check the condom wrapper.

On each condom there is 3 things that you must check prior to using.

  1. Always use condoms that have the BSI kite mark and the CE mark on the packet. This means they’ve been tested to high safety standards
  2. Make sure to check the packaging that there is no tears or holes. If air gets in to the packaging it can dry out the lubricant and can cause the condom to tear
  3. Check the expiry date. If the condom is out of date, do not use the condom.

To put on the condom, it needs to be carefully removed from packaging. It is then placed the correct way around on the tip of the penis. The tip of the condom is squeezed between two fingers to squeeze out any air (this will leave space for ejaculate), and the condom is gently rolled down with the other hand to the base of the penis, as far as it will go.

If you are having difficulty rolling down the condom – if it keeps rolling back up – it is likely that the condom is on the wrong way around (i.e. inside out). Take off this condom, dispose of it and use a new one.

If the condom feels too tight around the base of the penis, you may need to get a condom that is a wider fit. If it is too loose, you may need a more trim or snug fit. Think of a condom as a sock – it should fit just right, not uncomfortably tight, or so loose that it will fall off!

Please see the video instructions below, or click here for detailed instructions from the CDC.

Condom are between 97%-98% effective if used correctly.

However, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding condoms.

Water-based lubricant is safe to use with all condoms. Do not use oil-based lubricant such as baby lotion, Vaseline etc as they can break down the latex in the condoms and can cause the condom to tear or rip.

You cannot use a condom more than once. Condoms have to be in date, kept dry, packaging intact, and out on correctly to ensure that they work as they should!

Condoms are available to purchase at pharmacies and most supermarkets, and on reputable websites. Sometimes condoms are given out for free in places such as sexual health centres and university health units.

Sexual Health West distributes free condoms and lubricant from our office in Augustine St. We also offer a free condom and lubricant mail service. The requester will need to reach out to and provide a name and address and we will send a discreet package to the address.