If you choose to have sex, condoms can protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Using an external condom (previously known as a “male” condom) might seem difficult, and you may feel like you don’t know where to start. But don’t worry! It’s actually pretty easy.
Here’s what you need to know.
Putting it on:
- Check the expiration date. If the condom is expired, throw it away, and grab another one.
- Gently squeeze the center of the condom wrapper. If it bulges with air, the condom hasn’t been opened and is good to use.
- Open the condom wrapper carefully. To avoid tearing the condom, don’t use your teeth or scissors.
- Make sure the condom is right side out. When a condom is right side out, the rim is on the outside and the condom looks like a little hat (see the picture below).
- Pinch the tip of the condom to leave space for semen (cum) to collect and place it on the head of the fully erect penis. If uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back before placing the condom on the head of the penis.
- While holding the tip of the condom between your thumb and pointer finger, use the other hand to unroll the condom down to the base of the penis. If you try to roll the condom down and you realize that you accidentally put the condom inside out, do NOT flip it right side out and use it. Grab a new one.
- Have sex!
Taking it off:
- After ejaculation (cumming), hold on to the base of the condom. Gently and carefully pull out while the penis is still erect.
- Holding the tip of the condom between your thumb and pointer finger, use the other hand to roll off the condom halfway. Then, gently pull it off the penis.
- It’s helpful to tie a knot at the base of the condom to make sure that semen doesn’t spill out.
- Take the used condom and wrap it in a tissue.
- Throw the tissue with the used condom in the trash.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
What if the condom breaks?
If you feel the condom break at any point during sex:
- Stop immediately
- Withdraw the penis
- Remove the broken condom
- Wash your hands with soap and water
- Put on a new condom
Condoms can break, slip, or leak if they’re not put on and taken off correctly. If the condom breaks and you are concerned about unwanted pregnancy – emergency contraception can be used. Emergency contraception can be started up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but the sooner it’s started, the better it works. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, but it can lower your chance of pregnancy.
If your partner is a person living with HIV and the condom breaks, there are medicines you can take to lower your chances of getting HIV. These medicines are called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). PEP should be started within 72 hours. Contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider to discuss your options.
To learn more, check out these resources:
- Ask Auntie: How to Use a Condom
- Condom Fact Sheet
- Condoms 101
- What Kind of Emergency Contraception Is Best For Me?
- What is PEP?
Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University.