How to use condoms

Want to be a condom superstar?

External or internal, we've got you covered.

External (or male) condoms are the ones you may just think of as regular condoms. They're designed to fit over an erect penis.

Internal (or female) condoms can be inserted into the vagina or used for anal sex.

Both types help protect you from STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

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External (male) and internal (female) condoms

External (male) condoms are really widely available.

They're usually made of very thin latex (rubber) or polyurethane (plastic) and come in different shapes and sizes.

There are also novelty external condoms. These don't help protect you from sexually transmitted infections and the information below doesn't apply to them.

External condoms are designed to fit over an erect penis and can be used for vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Let's do this

  • Use a new condom each time you have sex.
  • Check the ‘use by’ date on the packet - if it's out of date, don't use it.
  • Be careful how you take the condom out of the packet – sharp fingernails and jewellery can tear the condom.
  • Find the teat or closed end and hold it between your thumb and finger to keep the air out. This will also help you roll the condom on the right way round.
  • Put the condom on when the penis is fully erect and before the penis touches the vagina, anus or genital area.
  • Still holding the end, roll the condom all the way down the penis.
  • If it won’t roll down then it’s probably on inside out. If so throw it away, start again with a new condom as secretions (sperm and germs) could now be on the outside of the first one.
  • If you have a foreskin, you may find it easier and more comfortable to put the condom on if the foreskin is pulled back. This lets the foreskin move freely and reduces the risk of the condom tearing or slipping off.
  • For anal sex the use of additional lube is important to help prevent the condom breaking. You may need to apply additional silicone or water-based lube in and around the anus.
  • As soon as you've ejaculated, and before the penis goes soft, hold the condom firmly in place at the base of the penis while pulling out. Do this slowly and carefully so you don't spill any semen (the ejaculation fluid that contains sperm).
  • Take off the condom, wrap it and put it in a bin. Never put it down the toilet.
  • Make sure the penis doesn't touch the genital area again and if you have sex again, use a new condom.

Where else can I get help?

You'll find instructions on the condom packet or in a leaflet inside the pack.

You can also ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist, a youth worker or a school counsellor.

More information about external condoms >>

An internal (or female) condom is usually made of polyurethane (a soft plastic) or synthetic rubber (also known as nitrile).

It can be put into the vagina or anus.

The guide below is for vaginal and anal sex.

Let's do this

  • Use a new condom every time you have sex.
  • Check the ‘use by’ date on the packet – if it's out of date, don't use it.
  • You can put the condom in any time before sex if you want to.
  • Always put it in before the penis touches the vagina, anus or genital area.
  • Be careful how you take the condom out of the packet – sharp fingernails and jewellery can tear the condom.

Using the internal condom for vaginal sex

  • You can put the condom in when you're lying down, squatting or with one leg on a chair. Find the position that suits you best.
  • Hold the closed end of the condom and squeeze the inner ring between your thumb and middle finger. Keeping your index finger on the inner ring helps you to insert the condom into the vagina.
  • With your other hand, separate the labia (folds of skin) around your vagina. Put the squeezed ring into the vagina and push it up as far as you can.
  • Make sure that the outer ring stays close against the area outside your vagina (vulva).
  • It's a good idea to guide the penis into the condom to make sure it doesn't enter the vagina outside the condom. You may need to hold the outer ring in place, outside the vagina, to stop the condom being accidentally pushed into the vagina.
  • As the internal condom is loose-fitting, it'll move during sex. But don't worry, you'll still be protected as long as the penis stays inside the condom.
  • To remove the condom after sex, simply twist the outer ring to keep any semen inside. Then pull the condom out gently.
  • Wrap the condom and put it in a bin. Never put it down the toilet.
  • Make sure the penis doesn't touch the genital area again and if you have sex again, use a new condom.

Using the internal condom for anal sex

  • Remove the inner ring and place the condom on the penis, making sure it covers the whole penis.
  • You may need to apply additional silicone or water-based lube in and around the anus.
  • Make sure that the outer ring of the condom stays close against the area outside your anus.
  • As the internal condom is loose-fitting, it'll move during sex. But don’t worry, you'll still be protected as long as the penis stays inside the condom.
  • To remove the condom after sex, simply twist the outer ring to keep any semen inside. Then pull the condom out gently.
  • Wrap the condom and put it in a bin. Never put it down the toilet.
  • Make sure the penis doesn't touch the anal area again and if you have sex again, use a new condom.

Where else can I get help?

You'll find instructions on the condom packet or in a leaflet inside the pack.

You can also ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist, a youth worker or a school nurse or counsellor.

More information about internal condoms >>

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