Wellness & Education Community Action Health Network
North Carolina

How are Condoms Used?

Condoms can protect you during contact between the penis, mouth, vagina, or rectum.

Condoms will not protect you from HIV or other infections unless you use them correctly.

  • Store condoms away from extreme heat, cold, or friction. Do not keep them in a wallet or a car glove compartment.
  • Check the expiration date. Do not use outdated condoms.
  • Do not open a condom package with your teeth. Be careful that your fingernails or jewelry don't tear the condom. Body jewelry in or around your penis or vagina might also tear a condom.
  • Use a new condom every time you have sex, or when the penis moves from the rectum to the vagina.
  • Check the condom during sex, especially if it feels strange, to make sure it is still in place and unbroken.
  • Do not use a male condom and a female condom at the same time.
  • Use water-based lubricants with latex condoms, not oil-based. The oils in Crisco, butter, baby oil, Vaseline or cold cream will make latex fall apart.
  • Use un-lubricated or flavored condoms for oral sex.
  • Do not throw condoms into a toilet. They can clog plumbing.

Using a Male Condom

  • Put the condom on when your penis is erect - but before it touches your partner's mouth, vagina, or rectum. Many couples use a condom too late, after some initial penetration. Direct genital contact can transmit some diseases. The liquid that comes out of the penis before orgasm can contain HIV.
  • If you want, put some water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom.
  • If you are not circumcised, push your foreskin back before you put on a condom. This lets your foreskin move without breaking the condom.
  • Squeeze the air out of the tip of the condom to leave room for semen and unroll the rest of the condom down the penis.
  • Do not "double bag" (use two condoms). Friction between the condoms increases the chance of breakage.
  • After orgasm, hold the base of the condom and pull out before your penis gets soft.
  • Be careful not to spill semen onto your partner when you throw the condom away.

Using a Female Condom

The female condom is a sleeve or pouch with a closed end and a larger open end. There are flexible rings at each end of the Reality condom, and a flexible V-shaped frame in the V-amour condom.

  • Put the condom in place before your partner's penis touches your vagina or rectum.
  • For use in the vagina, insert the narrow end of the condom, like inserting a diaphragm. The larger end goes over the opening to the vagina to protect the outside sex organs from infection.
  • Guide the penis into the large end to avoid unprotected contact between the penis and the partner's rectum or vagina.
  • Some people have used the Reality condom in the rectum after removing the smaller ring. Put the condom over your partner's erect penis. The condom will be inserted into the rectum along with the penis.
  • After sex, remove the condom before standing up. Twist the large end to keep the semen inside. Gently pull the condom out and throw it away.

Lubricants can increase sexual stimulation. They also reduce the chance that condoms or other barriers will break. Oil-based lubricants like Vaseline, oils, or creams can damage condoms and other latex barriers. Be sure to use water-based lubricants only.

Condom Myths

Myth: Condoms don't work
Fact: Condoms prevent HIV transmission very well if they are used correctly every time you have sex.

Myth: Condoms break a lot / Wearing two condoms at once will provide extra protection
Fact: Less than 2% of condoms break when they are used correctly. Do not use oil-based lubricants with latex condoms. Do not wear two condoms at once. Do not use expired condoms.

Myth: HIV can get through condoms
Fact: HIV can not get through latex or polyurethane condoms. Don't use lambskin condoms.