How to put a condom on properly

How to put a condom on properly

It’s a bit of an embarrassing question, how do you put on a condom properly but it could make the difference between catching an STI or causing an unwanted pregnancy or avoiding both of these outcomes. The hit rate for condom protection is not 100% anyway so if you don’t put it on properly in the first place then you could be storing up a potentially nasty problem for yourself later on. Practice makes perfect but here is a handy guide to refer to.

  • Open the packet carefully, don’t rip it open with your teeth or use scissors – you may be in a hurry but it is worth just taking a few extra seconds
  • Make sure the condom is ready to roll on the right way –this is the bit that causes the most confusion. The rim should be on the outside and the teat uppermost so it looks like a little hat. If it is the correct way around then it will unroll easily. You can start to unroll it very slightly to double-check you have got it the right way around
  • If you do put the condom on the wrong way round then discard it and start again with another one – never take it off, turn it around and re-use it
  • Pinch the tip of the condom and place the head on your penis, don’t pull it on flush, leave a little space at the top to collect the semen and then gently unroll it
  • Unroll the condom all the way down the shaft of the penis to the base
  • If you are not circumcised then it might be more comfortable to pull the foreskin back before putting the condom on
  • Roll on the condom when the penis is erect, obvious but still worth saying
  • You can put a few drops of water-based lube inside the tip of the condom before you put it on to make it more comfortable

Taking it off is just as important as putting it on

Take the condom off as soon as you can after you have finished by holding onto the rim of the condom as you withdraw from your partner’s body. Do this before the penis goes flaccid otherwise, the condom will loosen and some of the semen could leak out. Remove the condom carefully and wrap it in a tissue and then throw it away – do not flush it down the toilet.

Some Essentials to remember

  • Always put the condom on before it touches your partner's mouth or genital area and this includes the thighs and buttocks
  • Wear it the entire time you are having sex not just at the end – some STI’s transmit via skin to skin touching and also pre-ejaculate can carry STI bacteria and very rarely also contain sperm – best avoided
  • Adding lube to the outside of the condom once it is on the penis will make sex more enjoyable and reduces the likelihood of the condom tearing or ripping but don’t use anything with oil in it like Vaseline or baby oil or body butter – always use a water-based lube with latex condoms as oil products can damage them and cause them to break
  • Never re-use condoms, always use a new one and always change condoms when you switch from one kind of sex to another
  • If you lose your erection then just take the condom off and start again with another one – this is very common, just don’t persist with the same condom

Practice really does make perfect. You can put condoms on anything rigid with a suitable shape such as a cucumber or a banana even a small bottle. And of course, don’t forget to practice on yourself. If you become accomplished at this then you are far less likely to have an embarrassing fumble right at the wrong moment and no-one wants one of those. There are loads of online instructional clips on YouTube if you need them.

When you open a condom packet, there should be a little bubble of air that you can feel when you squeeze the wrapper. If the packet is torn or the contents feel dry or sticky or stiff then throw that condom away and use another one.

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

I'm Stuart, senior Editor at British Condoms. I am an expert in all areas of sexual health and have a passion to drive knowledge to youth in the UK. Any questions for me or media enquiries, please feel free to tweet me @britishcondoms. Always open to engagement.

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