Condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But if they aren’t used correctly, you’re more likely to experience breaks, tears, and other issues that can put you and your partner at risk. Read on to learn how to correctly use outside and inside condoms and dental dams, what to do if the condom breaks, and more.

How to determine that your condom is safe to use

You should always check that your chosen barrier method is safe to use before you plan to engage in intercourse.

Make sure to:

Check the expiration date. All condoms or dams have an expiration date printed on the box or the wrapper. Don’t use the condom after this date. Expired condoms may tear or break more easily.

Look for obvious defects. If a condom feels brittle or sticky, toss it and get a new one. If a condom is discolored, has an odor, or has any unusual textures, toss it. It’s better to use a condom you can trust.

Look for signs of friction. You probably know that you shouldn’t store condoms in your wallet or purse, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you do this, make sure to check for signs of friction on the wrapper. If the color has rubbed off, the condom inside is probably worn down, too. This means it’s more likely to break, so toss it and get a new one.

How to use an outside condom

Outside condoms are a barrier method of protection. They cover the penis tip and shaft and capture ejaculate that’s released during orgasm.

An outside condom can be used for vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Not only can it protect against unwanted pregnancy, it can also prevent STIs and other bacteria, such as fecal matter, from passing between partners.

Here’s how to use an outside condom correctly:

  1. Open the condom wrapper carefully. Don’t use your teeth or scissors, both could accidentally tear or puncture the condom.
  2. Check for damage or wear and tear that might make the condom fail.
  3. Hold the rim of the condom in one hand. Pinch the tip of the condom with your thumb and forefinger with the other.
  4. Roll the condom down the penis, making sure the rim is on the outside. If the rim is under and not rolling correctly, remove it, and throw it away. Precum may be on the condom, and precum may contain trace amounts of semen.
  5. Apply a few drops of awater-based lube to the outside of the condom if you’d like to reduce friction. Lube can also enhance sensitivity.
  6. After orgasm or ejaculation, pull out of your partner’s body while your penis is still erect. Hold the condom in place with one hand while you pull out. Holding the condom prevents slippage, which could introduce semen or fluids into your partner’s body.
How to use an inside condom

Inside condoms are larger than outside condoms. However, most people can still use them comfortably and effectively. Inside condoms are primarily used for vaginal sex, but they can also be used for anal sex.

Like outside condoms, inside condoms are highly effective at preventing pregnancy and reducing the risk of sharing STIs when used correctly.

Here’s how to use an inside condom:

  1. Remove the condom from the packaging. Don’t use your teeth or scissors, as this may tear or rip the condom.
  2. Get into a comfortable position. Consider lying on your bed or propping your leg on a stool.
  3. Pinch the smaller, inner ring that’s at the closed end of the condom between your thumb and forefinger. Use your other hand to pull back the folds of your labia around the vagina. Slide the squeezed inner ring into your vagina.
  4. Slide your forefinger, middle finger, or both into the open end of the condom until you reach the closed end of the condom. Gently push the condom further into your vagina until you reach the cervix.
  5. Rest the outer ring of the condom on the external hole/vagina. Hold it in place during intercourse. If the outer ring goes into the hole/vagina during penetration, pull it back out.
  6. Insert the penis into the condom, ensuring that it goes into the hole/vagina and not between the condom and the hole/vagina.
  7. After orgasm or ejaculation, twist the condom, and gently pull it out of your vagina, being careful not to spill semen.
How to use a dental dam or outside condom for oral sex

A dental dam is a latex or polyurethane sheet that can be used during vaginal oral sex or anal sex to protect against the spread of STIs. An outside condom is the best barrier method for penile oral sex.

Here’s how to use a dental dam for oral sex:

  1. Open the dental dam’s package carefully. Don’t cut it open with scissors or tear it open with your teeth. This can tear or rip the dam.
  2. Unfold the dam, looking for holes or damage that could make it less effective.
  3. Lay the dam across the vaginal or anal area. Lube on the dam or natural static will hold the dam in place. During oral sex, you should hold the dam in place to prevent it from slipping too much.
  4. After oral sex, fold the dam up, and throw it away.

An outside condom can be used for penile oral sex. It should be applied before any oral sex begins. Put the condom on as you would for vaginal or anal sex. Likewise, after an orgasm or ejaculation, you should remove the condom, being careful not to spill any semen.

How To Use a Finger Condom?
Finger condoms offer a safe and sanitary way to engage in the form of sexual penetration known as fingering. Fingering can also be referred to as digital sex or heavy petting. Finger condoms are often called finger cots.

Fingering is a relatively low-risk form of sexual intercourse. Fingering cannot result in pregnancy as long as sperm is not introduced into a vagina via the fingers.

The chance of contracting an STI from fingering is low, but it’s possible. For this reason, the use of a protective barrier like a finger condom is a safe choice. You can find finger condoms online and in the first aid section of some drug stores, but they are not as widely available or commonly used for fingering as gloves.

Finger condom instructions

Using a finger condom is straightforward. It’s placed on the finger prior to penetration like a regular condom.

The first step is to place the condom on the fingertip. Roll the finger condom all the way down toward the base of the finger. Make sure to smooth out any air that may have become trapped between the condom and the finger.

After use, remove and dispose of the condom in the trash. A finger condom cannot be flushed down the toilet. After disposal, wash hands with warm soap and water. Hands should be washed both before and after fingering, regardless of condom or glove use.

Condom lubrication is recommended because penetration without proper lubrication can cause friction. Friction can result in the condom breaking. Friction can also lead to tears and fissures inside the vagina or anus that may result in bleeding after being fingered.

If the condom in use is made of latex, it’s best to use water-based or silicone-based lube. Oil-based lubrication can break down latex and should be avoided.

Equally important: If a condom has been used inside the anus, do not use this same condom inside the vagina. This is true for all forms of condoms, including tongue condoms, male condoms, and female condoms.

Condoms are disposable devices intended for single use. Never reuse a condom.

It’s also a good idea to avoid the use of expired condoms and to store them properly. Store condoms away from heat, humidity and sharp objects. Discard the condom if it’s discolored, has holes or tears, has a foul odor, or if it’s stiff or sticky.

Finger condom benefits

There are multiple advantages of using finger condoms.

Protective barrier

These devices create a protective barrier that may prevent scratches from a fingernail inside a partner’s anus or vagina. Scratches can increase the risk of the transmission of STIs like HIV during intercourse. Exposed fingernails can also carry bacteria or STIs like chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV).


Another great benefit of finger condoms is the ease of cleanup after use. You can remove and dispose the condom, then wash your hands without the concern of bodily fluid remaining under a fingernail. Finger condoms can also be used to keep small sex toys clean.

Easy to use and cost-effective

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with others’ bodily fluids (with the exception of saliva). Condoms of all varieties are easy to use and are cost-effective options for safe sex.

Finger condom side effects and precautions

Finger condoms have many benefits, but latex or nitrile gloves likely offer a better solution for safe and sanitary fingering. Here’s why:

  • Gloves are far less likely to slip off during penetration.
  • If a finger condom comes off during use, it may be difficult to recover, particularly if it’s inside the anus.
  • Gloves also allow the user to choose any finger or fingers for penetration.

Latex gloves are a common choice for use with fingering, but be aware that some people have latex allergies. It’s a good idea to check with your partner about allergies before the use of latex gloves or latex condoms.

Nitrile gloves are widely available and a great alternative to latex. Both latex and nitrile gloves can come powdered; it’s recommended you wash off the powder before use. As with finger condoms, apply lubricant before penetration. Gloves used for fingering are also single-use and should never be used inside the vagina if they’ve been inside the anus.

Bottom Line:

The use of protective barriers during sexual intercourse decreases the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. The proper use of finger condoms or gloves is a way to avoid direct contact with a partner’s bodily fluids and can help prevent injury and illness.

Finger condoms and finger gloves are both effective tools for the safe practice of fingering, though gloves are often more accessible and easier to find.

Adding lube or spermicide into the mix

You can use lube with condoms. It can reduce friction and increase sensation. 

You should use water- or silicone-based lube if you’re using a latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene condom. Oil-based lubes, including petroleum jelly, lotion, or baby oil, can break down these condom, which might lead to failure during intercourse.

Spermicide is also OK to use with condoms. In fact, you should use a barrier method with spermicide for the greatest level of protection against unwanted pregnancy. You can apply spermicide to the outside of an external condom, the inside of an internal condom, or directly into the vagina before sex.

Most spermicides have a window during which they’re effective. Follow the directions on the spermicide’s box, and don’t use the product outside of that window. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t insert spermicide more than 30 to 60 minutes before intercourse.

What to do with the condom after use

If you want to confirm that the condom didn’t break during intercourse, you can remove the condom careful and fill it with water under a running faucet. If there’s a break in the condom, water will leak through the hole. If no water leaks, the condom didn’t break during use.

Afterward, you can twist the condom or tie the open end in a knot. Wrap the condom in tissue and throw it in the garbage. Don’t flush the condom — this can clog your plumbing.

What to do if your condom breaks during sex

If you’re in the middle of sex when you discover a broken condom, immediately withdraw from your partner’s body. Remove the condom and replace it with a new condom. Use a new dam if it breaks or tears.

If you know the condom broke during sex or you’re worried you might have been exposed to semen, you have options to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Visit your doctor or a health clinic and ask about emergency contraception.

The emergency contraceptive pill and copper intrauterine device (IUD) can be used within five days of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. They’re 95 percent effective if taken or inserted during this timeframe.

You may also consider getting tested for STIs to ensure that nothing spread between you and your partner.

Other things to consider

Correct condom use goes beyond properly inserting or rolling the condom. You should also keep the following in mind when selecting and using condoms:

Size matters. Don’t be aspirational with your condom choice. A properly-fitted condom is the most effective; a condom that’s too big or too small may slip or roll off during sex. 

Practice makes perfect. Don’t wait to try applying a condom when you’re in the heat of the moment. Try using an extra condom before you need one so you feel more confident.

Look for alternative materials. Latex is the most common condom option, but condoms made from other materials are available if you have an allergy. Look for condoms made from polyurethane or polyisoprene. Lambskin condoms are also available, but they don’t protect against STIs.

Get condoms for free. Your local health department, as well as some general health clinics, may offer free condoms.

Store correctly. It’s not a good idea to keep condoms in your wallet, purse, car, or bathrooms. Instead, store them in a cool, dry place where they won’t be exposed to heat, humidity, or friction.

Have a conversation. Don’t let protection be a dull topic. Talk with your partner about the variety of options that are available — condoms come in a variety of flavors and textures —and find something that makes sex safety more fun.

Bottom line:

Condoms are one of the most effective birth control methods. They also happen to be the only form of protection that prevents the spread of STIs. 

Using several birth control options — such as a hormonal birth control with a condom or spermicide with a condom — offers double the protection against pregnancy and STIs.

Knowing you’re protected also can make sex more relaxing and enjoyable. When you know you’re protected against an unplanned pregnancy and STIs, you and your partner can relax and enjoy each other more.

Best Condoms

Condoms are an effective form of birth control, and one of the few contraceptives that also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

There are a wide variety of condom brands out there, but not all condoms are created equally.

Keep in mind

Unless otherwise noted, we’re talking about external condoms (that is, condoms that fit over a penis or a penis-like sex toy).

How we chose

It almost goes without saying, but some are better in quality than others.

Plus, many people have a preference when it comes to condoms — certain condoms are better for specific sensations or functions. Unsure where to start? Look no further! We chose these products based on style, reliability, and user reviews.

Pricing guide

  • = under $6 per 12 pack
  • $$ = $6–$8 per 12 pack
  • $$$ = over $8 per 12 pack

Best overall condom

Best for people who have a penis 

Okamoto Crown Condoms
Price: $

Okamoto Crown Condoms are marketed as “the closest thing to nothing at all,” meaning that they’re thin and ultra sensitive, giving a more natural feel for people with a penis. Despite their thinness, each condom is electronically tested to ensure reliability.

Best for people with a vagina

Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations Condoms
Price: $$

Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations Condoms are designed so that sex will feel extra pleasurable for the partner who has a vagina. It has ribs and contours to increase sensation, and it’s lubricated with Trojan’s signature lube.

Best for penile-vaginal sex

Trojan Fire & Ice Condoms
Price: $$$

Trojan Fire & Ice Condoms can be great for penis-in-vagina sex. The condoms have dual-action lubricant with warming and tingling sensations on both sides of the condom, so both partners can equally enjoy the stimulation. 

Best for anal sex

Skyn Extra Lubricated Condoms
Price: $

When it comes to anal sex, lubrication is key. Using a condom with extra lube, such as Skyn Extra Lubricated Condoms, is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to get a bottle of lube and add some more! (Just be sure to get water- or silicone-based lube. Oil-based lubes can degrade condoms.) This condom’s smooth lubricant is flavor-free, so it’s unlikely to irritate the sensitive tissue around the anus.

Best for oral sex

Skyn Cocktail Club Flavored Condoms
Price: $$

Using condoms for oral sex might not seem necessary, but it is.

STIs can be transferred between the mouth and genitals, and condoms can help reduce the overall risk of transmission. But condoms often taste terrible — which is why flavored condoms are essential. Skyn Cocktail Club Flavored Condoms come in cocktail-inspired flavors, including piña colada, passion daiquiri, and cherry sunrise.

Best flavored condom

Durex Tropical Fruit-Flavored Condoms
Price: $$$

Another good option for flavored condoms is Durex Tropical Fruit-Flavored Condoms, which come in a variety of fruity flavors. The condoms are also ultra fine, which may create a more natural feel during sex.

Best textured condom

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Lubricated Condoms
Price: $$

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Lubricated Condoms are a popular type of ribbed condom. The friction created by the texture can make it more pleasurable for the person who is being penetrated.

Best warming condom

Trojan Charged Lubricated Condoms
Price: $$$

Trojan Charged Lubricated Condoms are dual-lubricated with warming lube. This means that each partner — not just the person being penetrated — experiences warming sensations. The condoms are also deep-ribbed, meaning the person being penetrated may feel extra sensations.

Best prolonging condom

Durex Performax Intense Condoms
Price: $$

When it comes to penis-in-vagina sex, many people find that sexual penetration doesn’t last as long as they’d like.

This is often because the partner with a penis finishes before the partner with a vagina can. To prevent this from happening, you can use condoms that prolong the experience. Durex Performax Intense Condoms contain a desensitizing lubricant that might do the trick. Plus, they’re ribbed and dotted, which may be pleasurable for the person being penetrated. 

Best sensitivity condom

Durex Invisible Ultra Thin Condom
Price: $

Durex Invisible Ultra Thin Condoms are marketed as “so thin, they’re almost invisible.” These condoms are the thinnest in the Durex range. They feature a straight walled shape to help maximize sensitivity.

Best for an average fit

Kimono MicroThin Condoms
Price: $$

If you’re after a standard fit, the Kimono MicroThin condom is designed for penises up to 7.48 inches in length and 2.05 inches in width. These condoms come in a few different varieties and are extra thin for added sensitivity. 

Best for a snug fit 

GLYDE Slimfit Premium Condoms
Price: $$$

If you’re after a snugger fit, check out GLYDE Slimfit Premium. This condom is designed to fit penises up to 6.7 inches in length and 1.93 inches in width. GLYDE condoms are made from sustainably harvested latex, so they’re also eco-friendly and vegan!

Best for a larger fit

Trojan Magnum Condoms
Price: $

If you’re after a larger fit, Trojan Magnum condoms are designed to fit penises up to 8.07 inches in length and 2.13 inches in width. As with all Trojan condoms, they’re made with high quality latex that is electronically tested.

Best for sex toys

Durex Pleasure Pack
Price: $$

If you’re sharing sex toys with your partner(s), it’s a great idea to use condoms. This can reduce the risk of STI transmission. Using a condom can also give the sex toy a whole new sensation. You may find it helpful to get something like the Durex Pleasure Pack, which includes a variety of popular Durex condoms.

This can be extra fun for masturbation as it lets you figure out which condoms you enjoy the most. Also, keep in mind that it’s best to make sure you’re using a condom that has a water-based lube when using silicone toys. Other types of lube can damage the condom.

Best latex condom

LifeStyles Ultra Sensitive Condoms
Price: $

If you want a simple, lubricated, latex condom that doesn’t have that overwhelming balloon-like scent, LifeStyles Ultra Sensitive Condoms are worth a try. These condoms are thin but reliable, and the flared shape helps enhance sensitivity for a natural feel.

Best nonlatex condom

Skyn Selection Condoms
Price: $

If you have a latex allergy, look no further than the condom brand Skyn. They have a variety of nonlatex condoms to help create whatever sensation you’re in the mood for.

Best for sensitive skin

Okamoto Usa 004 Aloe Almost Nothing Condom
Price: $$$

One of the best condoms for sensitive skin is Okamoto Usa 004 Aloe Almost Nothing Condom. Enriched with aloe, which is known to soothe irritated skin, these condoms can be great if you’re prone to post-sex rashes. They’re also ultra thin and fit snugly. 

Best lubricated condom

Trojan ENZ Condoms
Price: $

For a classic, no-frills, lubricated condom, try Trojan ENZ lubricated condoms. The affordable 36 pack is great in terms of value for money. The high quality lubricant is signature to their condoms and is unlikely to cause an adverse reaction.

Best for the environment

GLYDE Condoms
Price: $$$

Made with sustainably harvested natural rubber latex, GLYDE condoms are vegan-approved. To create their products, GLYDE works with eco-friendly, sustainable fair trade partners. They also support social projects that work to prevent HIV, so each purchase supports a good cause. GLYDE offers 13 varieties, including specific fits and different flavors.

Best custom fit

myONE Perfect Fit condoms
Price: $$

If you didn’t know custom-fit condoms were a thing, you do now! According to myONE’s website, most condoms can only properly fit 12 percent of users.

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration cleared a wider range of condom sizes. Because of this, myONE is able to offer 60 sizes. To order, you must measure your penis and include your measurements alongside the desired quantity.

Best internal fit

Price: $$$

Internal condoms are often called “female condoms” because they can go inside the vagina, but this is a bit of a misnomer. Internal condoms aren’t a sex or gender-specific thing, and many people who use internal condoms vaginally aren’t female. What’s more, many people use internal condoms for anal sex. One of the most well-known and well-loved internal condom brands is FC2. They’re latex-free, and FC2 condoms can be inserted hours in advance, which allows you to enjoy intimate moments uninterrupted.

Best dental dam

Crosstex 19100 Dental Dam

Price: $

Dental dams are used between the mouth and vulva or mouth and anus to reduce the risk of STI transmission between partners. They’re rectangular or square and usually made of latex.

If you want something that’s ready to go, the Crosstex 19100 Dental Dam is a great option. You can also make a DIY dental dam with an external or internal condom. To do this, snip off the closed end of the condom and cut a slit in the side to make a rectangle. This “sheet” can then be placed over the genitals or anus.

Best spermicidal condom

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Spermicidal Condoms

Price: $$

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Spermicidal Condoms can be great if you want an added layer of pregnancy prevention. If the condom slips or breaks, the spermicidal lubricant can help prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Another bonus? These condoms are ribbed for added sensation.

Best finger cot

First Aid Only Nitrile Finger Cots
Price: $

Finger cots are great for protecting against STIs when you’re using your fingers to stimulate your partner. Most medical-grade finger cots work really well for finger penetration, although you might want to add lubricant to make it feel more pleasurable. These finger cots from First Aid Only are they’re latex- and powder-free, ensuring it won’t irritate you or your partner.

How to choose

Choosing the right condom depends on your needs. You need to ensure that your condom is the right size and type for your body, and that the condom you choose is right for the type of sex you’re having. Remember, correct and consistent condom use is the only way to reduce your risk of STI transmission and, in some cases, pregnancy.

In other words:

  • Never reuse condoms, finger cots, or dental dams.
  • Don’t use anything that appears damaged or has expired.
  • Follow the instructions on the packaging to ensure that the barrier is on correctly and is also stored correctly.
  • Use lubrication as needed. The more, the better!
Bottom Line:

There are many kinds of condoms out there, and the best condom for you will depend on your personal tastes, size, and needs. Even the best condoms aren’t always 100 percent effective, so if possible, use multiple forms of contraception and get tested for STIs regularly. Talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health.

More Information on condom safety

If you’re looking for protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) without a prescription, condoms may be a good option to explore. They’re discrete, relatively inexpensive, and don’t involve any synthetic hormones. Condoms are also readily available at your nearest convenience or drug store. What are the safest condoms on the market? Here’s what you need to know.

How do condoms prevent pregnancy?

condom creates a barrier between you and your partner during sex. It prevents your skin and fluids from coming into contact with that of the other person. This means that they help to prevent pregnancy and protect against STIs as well.

Condoms can also be used in combination with other birth control methods, such as birth control pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs), to provide added protection.

There are two main types of condoms.

Male condoms

Male condoms are worn on the penis to provide protection during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. They’re typically made of latex or polyurethane. They’re available lubricated or non-lubricated, as well as with spermicide or without it.

Male condoms cost about $1, and there are countless options. They vary by factors such as:

  • size
  • shape
  • color
  • flavoring

When used correctly, male condoms protect against pregnancy 98 percent of the time, according to Planned Parenthood. As with any birth control method, the effectiveness is tied to usage. With typical usage, the effectiveness of male condoms drops to 85 percent, per Planned Parenthood.

Female condoms

Female condoms fit inside the vagina or anus. They’re typically made of polyurethane or nitrile. They’re generally more expensive than male condoms.

Female condoms costs about $4 each, although more modern options have come down in price. Compared to male condoms, there aren’t as many options for female condoms. According to Planned Parenthood, female condoms are 95 percent effective if they’re used correctly. However, they are around 79 percent effective with typical usage.

Which condoms are best at preventing STIs?

Male condoms made from latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane are your best protection against STIs spread by fluids. This means condoms can protect against:

Other STIs, such as herpes and genital warts, spread through skin-to-skin contact. Depending on the affected area, these may not be totally covered by condoms.

Female condoms provide some STI protection, but more research is needed to fully assess their effectiveness. The female condom isn’t as effective at preventing diseases as the male condom.

Although more than 80 percent of the condoms you’ll find at the store are made from either latex or polyurethane, there are more natural varieties.

It’s important to note that condoms made from lambskin or other natural materials protect against pregnancy, but they may not fully protect against all STIs. This is because these materials are porous and may allow for the transmission of fluids even with perfect usage.

If you have an allergy or other reason for not using the latex or plastic options, speak with your doctor about which birth control option may best suit your needs.

Condoms to try

Because a condom’s effectiveness depends on the material it’s made of and its application, specific brands aren’t necessarily safer than others. Here’s a list of some of the top-rated condoms and their positives.

Trojan ENZ

The Trojan ENZ condom is a lubricated condom made from latex, and it’s an Amazon bestseller.

It boasts a classic design with a reservoir tip for added safety against spills and added pleasure. These condoms are a great, no-frills option if you’re looking for simple protection against pregnancy and STIs.

Durex extra sensitive

The Durex Extra Sensitive condom is ultrathin and coated in extra lube for ultimate sensitivity. Reviewers share that these condoms hold up well even over a long time. Others explain that these condoms fit well and provide superior protection.

LifeStyles SKYN

There are several varieties of the LifeStyles SKYN condoms, including original, extra lubricated, and intense feel.

The brand advertises that this condom is the “closest thing to wearing nothing” and that it’s the first high-quality condom made from polyisoprene. The “intense feel” condom features deep studs in a wave pattern to maximize pleasure.

Trojan her pleasure

The Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations latex condom is ribbed and contoured to enhance the female experience during sex. Reviewers share that they fit securely and feel natural. Others report that they have a snug fit and come with a good amount of lubricant.

FC2 female condom

The FC2 Female Condom is the most well-known female condom on the market. It’s made from polyurethane, which is great for anyone with a latex allergy.

Female reviewers share that when this condom is inserted correctly, it’s very comfortable and doesn’t slip. Male reviewers share that their sensation with this condom is similar to not wearing anything at all.

How to use condoms properly

A condom’s effectiveness depends heavily on proper use, so it’s important to learn good technique.

Regardless of which type of condom you choose, condoms are devices for one-time use only. When you’ve finished using one, promptly throw it in the garbage. Use a new one whenever you have sex.

How to put on a male condom

Follow these steps to put on a male condom:

  1. Open the package carefully. Don’t use your teeth, as they might rip or tear the condom.
  2. Pinch the top of the condom with your fingers to leave room for the ejaculate.
  3. Place the condom atop the erect penis and slowly unroll it down the shaft with your other hand.
  4. Consider adding a water-based lubricant to protect against too much friction.
  5. After intercourse, hold the base of the condom as you remove it to prevent spills and slipping.

How to put on a female condom

Follow these steps to put on a female condom:

  1. Open the package carefully. Don’t use your teeth, because they may rip or tear the condom.
  2. Squeeze the first ring of the condom and insert it fully into the vagina as you would a tampon.
  3. Keep the second ring outside the vagina by about an inch. It will cover the vulva.
  4. After sex, squeeze the outer ring as you gently pull the condom out.

What to do if the condom breaks

If the condom breaks, it’s important to remain calm. Talk to your partner about your potential next steps.

If you’re worried about pregnancy and aren’t on another type of birth control such as the pill, you can visit your local pharmacy and get emergency contraception like Plan B One-Step.

It’s available without a prescription, identification, or age restriction. It prevents around seven out of eight possible pregnancies. This pill should be taken within three days to be most effective.

You can also schedule an emergency appointment with your doctor to have an intrauterine device inserted (IUD). IUDs are over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when inserted up to five days after contraceptive failure.

Emergency contraception doesn’t protect against STIs, though. If you think you may have had contact with someone who is STI-positive, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible to get tested.

Many STIs don’t show any symptoms at first, so you may not know right away whether you’ve contracted one. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could pass along an STI to other sexual partners.

The symptoms of chlamydia can include:

  • painful urination
  • abdominal pain
  • unusual discharge
  • spotting between periods in women
  • testicular pain in men

The symptoms of gonorrhea can include:

  • an unusual discharge
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • pain with bowel movements
  • anal itching

The symptoms of trichomoniasis can include:

  • an unusual discharge
  • itching and irritation in and around genitals
  • pain during sex
  • pain when urinating

The symptoms of HIV can include:

  • a fever
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • fatigue

Contact your doctor today if you have any of these symptoms or have a reason for concern.

Bottom Line:

Condoms are inexpensive, readily available, and highly effective at preventing pregnancy and protecting against STIs.

Because natural materials like lambskin are porous, use latex or polyurethane options for better protection against STIs. Regardless of what brand or type you choose, always take the time to use them correctly.

Although using condoms is an excellent way for you to have safe sex, there are many other options available as well. Speak with your partner about what works for your relationship and lifestyle.

Some couples choose to use a backup method, such as birth control pills or IUDs, along with condoms for additional protection. From there, you can experiment with different types, styles, and sizes of condoms to find what feels and works best.

Reference and Credits:
Dental dam use. (2016).
Effectiveness of family planning methods. (2014).
Effectiveness of family planning methods. (2011).
Emergency contraception. (2018).
Female condom use. (2016).
How do I use a condom? (2015).
Male condom use. (2016).
What to do if a condom breaks. (n.d.).
Written by Ana Gotter — Updated on January 26, 2019
Barrier devices. (n.d.).
Safer sex for transgender people. (n.d.).
What is a finger cot? (n.d.).
Condom size chart with snug, regular, & large size condoms. (2021).
Dental dam use. (2016).
How do I use a condom? (2018).
Male condom use. (2016).
Nguyen K, et al. (2020). Latex allergy.
TheyFit condoms: Indications for use. (2015).
About Plan B One-Step. (n.d.)
Do condoms work? What’s the best brand and which type of condom is most effective? (n.d.)
Female condoms. (n.d.)
Female condom [Fact sheet]. (n.d.)
Herbenick, D. (2008, August 7). What are the best condoms to use or the safest? Retrieved from
How effective are condoms? (n.d.)
How to put on a condom. (n.d.)
How to use a condom properly — Avoid breakage and slippage. (n.d)
Male condom [Fact sheet]. (n.d.)
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, March 18). STD symptoms: Common STDs and their symptoms
Photo Credit: Deon Black

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