How to put on a condom

It's easy.

There's not much more to using a condom than simply tearing open the packet and sticking it on. However, condoms come in different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and flavours. Experiment to see which are best for you. If you're having anal sex, always go for a thicker condom.

  • If you find one type of condom uncomfortable, shop around until you find another that suits you better. Widely available condoms vary in length by 2-3 centimetres while circumferences vary by a centimetre or more.
  • Check the use-by date as condoms can deteriorate with age.
  • Make sure the condom meets recognized safety requirements (the British Standard Kitemark symbol on condoms manufactured in the UK is generally acknowledged to be the highest standard in the world). Beware of condoms that are like toys: shaped like animals, are luminous in the dark, or play tunes when you take them out of the packet.
OK. But I don't like them

If you don't like using condoms, practise putting them on and coming into them at home. This really is a problem that's all in the mind.

Condoms don't affect sexual performance — in fact, they may prolong it.

Some women don't like condoms as they can irritate the vagina. This can be overcome with a little lubricant (not oil-based as this can split latex condoms). In the rare case of latex allergy or overwhelming urge to use your favourite oil-based lubricant, use polyurethane condoms.

Hmm, I wouldn't mind more control but they spoil the moment

They needn't. Use your imagination. Put it on together. Or your partner can do it. Using their mouth, maybe. (But beware teeth can damage condoms.) Talk about it while you're doing it - lots of potential for dirty talk - and maintain eye contact to maintain excitement.

Not difficult and, by encouraging you and your partner to work together, using a condom might actually improve your mutual pleasure.

Yes, but they are difficult to put on

They're honestly not and there are umpteen videos out there to show you how if you're not sure. They are a lot less hassle than having to deal with an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection which, if left untreated, may in some cases kill you.

  1. Wait until your penis is fully erect before you put on the condom. Because seminal fluid can come out of your penis before you ejaculate (come), you should put the condom on before you attempt penetration.
  2. Open the packet carefully, even if you're a tad excited. Although condoms are very strong, they can be torn by fingernails, rings, or even rough skin.
  3. Make sure you put it on the right way round. The best method is to hold the closed end between the thumb and forefinger of one hand and squeeze the air out.
  4. Then, using the other hand, place the condom on the tip of your penis and unroll it fully down the shaft.
  5. Slap on plenty of water-based lubricant for extra pleasure. Don't use petroleum jelly or massage oil - they can rot latex remarkably quickly. (Although you can safely use oil-based lubes with polyurethane condoms.)
  6. Check it. In some sexual positions, the condom can roll up so make sure it's still in position during sex.
  7. Remove it carefully. Because your penis goes limp soon after you've ejaculated, you should hold the base of the condom firmly in place and withdraw before any semen can leak out of the condom.
  8. Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it away in a bin. (Don't chuck it down the toilet - used condoms are a nightmare for sewage companies and can end up on beaches.)

If you're new to condoms, practise when you're home alone. 

Where can I get condoms?

Go to your local contraception/family planning clinic or sexual health clinic and you may well get them free.

Condoms are also available in some GP surgeries plus many pharmacies, supermarkets, garages or vending machines in some public toilets. Or, of course, buy them online.

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MAIN IMAGE: Trojan Mint Tingle Banana by theimpulsivebuy licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Date published 10/10/15
Date of last review 10/10/15
Date of next review 10/10/18


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