An external condom, also known as a male condom, is a thin cover that is placed over the penis to protect against sexually transmitted infections and to prevent pregnancy by blocking semen from leaving the condom. Male condoms are inexpensive, easy to find, not hard to use (a little instruction never hurts, though! See below.) and really, really effective against HIV, chlamydia and a host of other sexually transmitted infections when used-as the public health mantra goes-consistently and correctly. Not a bad choice against unintended pregnancy, either.
In sum, condoms work. Condoms work best when you know some basic facts and understand how to use them. The facts on this page will help you have a better idea of how to use condoms correctly and protect your (and your partner’s) health.
- Treat condoms gently and keep them out of the sun.
- With latex condoms, never use lotions, baby oil, Vaseline®: or cold cream — the oil in these products weakens the condom.
- If you use a lubricant, use one made with water (such as K-Y®: jelly or glycerin).
- Regular use of spermicidal lubricants should be avoided as they may cause skin irritation.
- Put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina, mouth or anus.
How to Use a Male Condom
- First, check the expiration date and for any obvious rips or tears in the packaging.
- (Just as old rubber bands break easily, latex condoms become less elastic and more susceptible to breaking after their expiration date.)
- Move the condom out of the way and tear open the packaging.
- Hold the condom by the tip to squeeze out the air.
- Leave some space at the tip to hold the ejaculate (cum).
- Unroll the condom all the way over the erect penis.
- If you put the condom on and start to unroll it the wrong way, don’t flip it over and put it on again. Throw the condom out and start again with a new condom.
- After sex, the man should hold the condom at the rim, face away from his partner, and pull out slowly while the penis is still hard.
- Use a new condom if you want to have sex again or if moving from the anus to the vagina (preventing the spread of bacteria).
Dos and Don’ts
DON’T store condoms in a hot place.
DO keep condoms in a cool, dry place
DON’T use out of date condoms or ones whose packaging is torn or damaged.
DO check the expiration date. Old condoms can be dry and can break more easily.
DON’T use scissors or your teeth when opening a condom–you might tear it.
DO open condoms with care.
DON’T try to put a condom on before the penis is erect (hard).
DO put the condom on an erect penis before there is any contact with a partner’s genitals.
DON’T use oil-based lube with latex condoms. The oil can cause latex condoms to break.
DO use a water-based lube with latex condoms.
DON’T flip a condom over and reuse it if you put it on the wrong way. Throw it out and get a new one.
DO throw out a condom after you use it. Never reuse a condom.