How to use condoms

Following a few simple steps can help make sure you’re comfortable and well protected. 

Make sure your condom isn’t damaged

  • store your condoms in a cool place, away from heat such as a bedside lamp

  • don’t keep condoms in your pocket, as friction can damage them

  • use them before the expiry date or replace them

  • check for any tears or defects before using one

  • never reuse a condom

  • only use a water or silicone-based lubricant as oil-based lubricants can damage them

How to use a male condom correctly

  • use a condom every time you have sex

  • put the condom on before any genital contact

  • check the expiry date and for any tears or defects at the time you put the condom on

  • if you’re having problems rolling the condom down over the penis then you might have it inside out, if this happens start again with a new condom

  • do not re-use a condom or use more than one condom at a time

  • keep the condom on when you withdraw your penis, holding it on at the base of your penis

How to use a female condom correctly 

  • put the condom in place in the vagina before there’s any genital contact

  • squeeze the ring at the closed end of the condom between your thumb and forefinger and then insert this into the entrance to the vagina

  • then push the ring at the closed end of the internal condom right to the top of the vagina 

  • make sure the ring of the open end of the condom sits just outside the vagina

  • make sure the penis enters into the female condom, and not to one side of it, or you risk pregnancy and STIs

  • after sex is finished, remove the female condom by gently pulling on the external ring

Where to get condoms

You can buy condoms at most pharmacies, supermarkets, garages and vending machines. You can also order them online. In the UK you can get them free from sexual health services and some GP practices.

Female condoms can be harder to find in shops but you can find them easily online, and they’re often available free from sexual health services.

What to do if the condom breaks or falls off

If you’re worried about the risk of pregnancy, you can use emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill or an IUD (intrauterine device). You can do this up to 5 days after sex but it’s best to get it as soon as possible.

Find out If you want to get tested for STI after a problem with a condom, make sure to test accurately by checking the best time to test.

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