Condoms 101

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We just wrapped up National Condom Week, a chance to learn all about condoms including how to use them and where to find them and are getting close to wrapping up Condom Month. Although we may all be familiar with what a condom does, it’s never too late for a refresher (or introductory) course on how to properly use one!

So… what do condoms do?

Most condoms are an external barrier contraceptive. It fits over an erect penis to protect from both pregnancy and STIs during sexual intercourse. Internal condoms also exist, and can be inserted into the vagina or anus for protection against pregnancy and STIs. These are sometimes called female condoms since they can be inserted into the vagina.

How do I use an external condom?

After asking for consent from your partner, make sure to check the expiration date and the package of the condom for any tears or holes. Carefully open the condom using your fingers, not teeth or scissors that could damage the condom. Checking to make sure it unrolls correctly, place it on the tip of the erect penis and pinch the tip to get the air out. Then, unroll the condom down to the base of the penis. After sex, hold the base of the penis as you withdraw. Remove the condom and throw it away after one use.

Do they always work?

As a reminder, the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs is abstinence, or not have sex. If you choose to have sex, condoms are another important way to protect yourself.  While condoms are very effective, they don’t always work. Condoms are up to about 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms often fail due to incorrect usage which is why it is so important to use them consistently and correctly!

Do I need lube?

While some condoms come already lubricated, adding lube to the outside of the condom can help prevent rips as well as provide a more pleasurable experience. Water based lube is the safest to use with condoms. NEVER use an oil based lube (vaseline, body lotion, etc) with a condom as the oil can break down the latex condom and cause it to tear.

Can I use two condoms?

There is no evidence that using two condoms is more effective at preventing pregnancy or STIs. In fact, two condoms can create friction and cause each other to tear, making them both less effective. Always use one condom for each site the penis enters.

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