Using Condoms, Condom Types and Sizes

Why do I need to use a condom?

Condoms are the only form of protection that can both help to stop thetransmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV and prevent pregnancy.

Getting ready, choosing the right condom

A number of different types of condom are now available. What isgenerally called a condom is the ‘male’ condom, a sheath or coveringwhich fits over a man’s penis, and which is closed at one end.

There is also now a female condom, or vaginal sheath, which is used by a woman and which fits inside her vagina. The rest of this page is about the male condom.

What are condoms made of?

Condoms are usually made of latex or polyurethane. If possible youshould use a latex condom, as they are slightly more reliable, and inmost countries they are most readily available.

Latex condoms can only be used with water based lubricants, not oilbased lubricants such as Vaseline or cold cream as they break down thelatex. A small number of people have an allergic reaction to latex andcan use polyurethane condoms instead.

Polyurethane condoms are made of a type of plastic. They are thinnerthan latex condoms, and so they increase sensitivity and are moreagreeable in feel and appearance to some users. They are more expensivethan latex condoms and slightly less flexible so more lubrication maybe needed. However both oil and water based lubricants can be used withthem.

It’s not clear whether latex or polyurethane condoms are stronger ā€“there are studies suggesting that either is less likely to break. Withboth types however, the likelihood of breakages is very small if usedcorrectly.

The lubrication on condoms also varies. Some condoms are notlubricated at all, some are lubricated with a silicone substance, andsome condoms have a water-based lubricant. The lubrication on condomsaims to make the condom easier to put on and more comfortable to use.It can also help prevent condom breakage.

Spermicides and Nonoxynol 9

Condoms and lubricants sometimes contain a spermicide calledNonoxynol 9. Adding Nonoxynol 9 to condoms was thought in the past tohelp to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and other STDs,but it is now known to be ineffective.

Some people have an allergic reaction to Nonoxynol 9 that can resultin little sores, which can actually make the transmission of HIV morelikely. Because of this, you should only use condoms and lubricantscontaining Nonoxynol 9 if you are HIV negative and know that yourpartner is too. However, using a condom (even if it contains Nonoxynol9) is much safer than having unprotected sex.

What shapes are there and which should I choose? What about flavoured condoms?

Condoms come in a variety of shapes. Most have a reservoir tipalthough some do have a plain tip. Condoms may be regular shaped (withstraight sides), form fit (indented below the head of the penis), orthey may be flared (wider over the head of the penis).

Ribbed condoms are textured with ribs or bumps, which can increasesensation for both partners. Condoms also come in a variety of colours.

It’s up to you which shape you choose. All of the differences inshape are designed to suit different personal preferences and enhancepleasure. It is important to communicate with your partner to be surethat you are using condoms that satisfy both of you.

Some condoms are flavoured to make oral sex more enjoyable. They are also safe to use for penetrative sex as long as they have been tested and approved.

What about the condom size?

Condoms are made in different lengths and widths, and different manufacturers produce varying sizes.

There is no standard length for condoms, though those made fromnatural rubber will in addition always stretch if necessary to fit thelength of the man’s erect penis.

The width of a condom can also vary. Some condoms have a slightlysmaller width to give a “closer” fit, whereas others will be slightlylarger. Condom makers have realised that different lengths and widthsare needed and are increasingly broadening their range of sizes.

The brand names will be different in each country, so you will needto do your own investigation of different names. There is no particularbest brand of condom.

So when do you use a condom?

You need to use a new condom every time you have sexual intercourse.Never use the same condom twice. Put the condom on after the penis iserect and before any contact is made between the penis and any part ofthe partner’s body. If you go from anal intercourse to vaginalintercourse, you should consider changing the condom.

Where can I get condoms?

There are no age limitations on buying condoms. Buying a condom nomatter how old you are shows that you are taking responsibility foryour actions. Family planning and sexual health clinics provide condomsfree of charge. Condoms are available to buy from supermarkets,convenience stores and petrol/gas stations. Vending machines sellingcondoms are found in toilets at many locations. You can also order thenonline from different manufacturers and distributors.

How can I check a condom is safe to use?

Condoms that have been properly tested and approved carry the BritishStandard Kite Mark or the EEC Standard Mark (CE). In the USA, condomsshould be FDA approved, and elsewhere in the world, they should be ISOapproved.

Condoms have an expiration (Exp) or manufacture (MFG) date on the boxor individual package that tells you when it is safe to use the condomuntil. It’s important to check this when you use a condom. You shouldalso make sure the package and the condom appear to be in goodcondition.

Condoms can deteriorate if not stored properly as they are affectedby both heat and light. So it’s best not to use a condom that has beenstored in your back pocket, your wallet, or the glove compartment ofyour car. If a condom feels sticky or very dry you shouldn’t use it asthe packaging has probably been damaged.

How do you use a condom?

Open the condom package at one corner being careful not to tear thecondom with your fingernails, your teeth, or through being too rough.Make sure the package and condom appear to be in good condition, andcheck that if there is an expiry date that the date has not passed.

Place the rolled condom over the tip of the hard penis, and if thecondom does not have a reservoir top, pinch the tip of the condomenough to leave a half inch space for semen to collect. If the man isnot circumcised, then pull back the foreskin before rolling on thecondom.

Pinch the air out of the condom tip with one hand and unroll thecondom over the penis with the other hand. Roll the condom all the waydown to the base of the penis, and smooth out any air bubbles. (Airbubbles can cause a condom to break.)

If you want to use some extra lubrication, put it on the outside ofthe condom. But always use a water-based lubricant (such as KY Jelly orLiquid Silk) with latex condoms, as an oil-based lubricant will causethe latex to break.

The man wearing the condom doesn’t always have to be the one putting it on – it can be quite a nice thing for his partner to do.

What do you do if the condom won’t unroll?

The condom should unroll smoothly and easily from the rim on theoutside. If you have to struggle or if it takes more than a fewseconds, it probably means that you are trying to put the condom onupside down. To take off the condom, don’t try to roll it back up. Holdit near the rim and slide it off. Then start again with a new condom.

When do you take off the condom?

Pull out before the penis softens, and hold the condom against thebase of the penis while you pull out, so that the semen doesn’t spill.Condom should be disposed properly for example wrapping it in a tissueand throwing it away. It’s not good to flush condoms down the toilet -they’re bad for the environment.

What do you do if a condom breaks?

If a condom breaks during sexual intercourse, then pu

ll out quicklyand replace the condom. Whilst you are having sex, check the condomfrom time to time, to make sure it hasn’t split or slipped off. If thecondom has broken and you feel that semen has come out of the condomduring sex, you should consider getting emergency contraception such asthe morning after pill.

What condoms should you use for anal intercourse?

With anal intercourse more strain is placed on the condom. You canuse stronger condoms (which are thicker) but standard condoms are justas effective as long as they are used correctly with plenty oflubricant. Condoms with a lubricant containing Nonoxynol 9 should NOT be used for anal sex as Nonoxynol 9 damages the lining of the rectum increasing the risk of HIV and other STD transmission.

Is using a condom effective?

If used properly, a condom is very effective at reducing the risk ofbeing infected with HIV during sexual intercourse. Using a condom alsoprovides protection against other sexually transmitted diseases, andprotection against pregnancy. In the laboratory, latex condoms are veryeffective at blocking transmission of HIV because the pores in latexcondoms are too small to allow the virus to pass through. However,outside of the laboratory condoms are less effective because people donot always use condoms properly.

How do you dispose of a used condom?

All condoms should be disposed of by wrapping in tissue or toilet paperand throwing them in the bin. Condoms should not be flushed down thetoilet as they may cause blockages in the sewage system and pollution.

Latex condoms are made mainly from latex with added stabilizers,preservatives and vulcanizing (hardening) agents. Latex is a naturalsubstance made form rubber trees, but because of the added ingredientsmost latex condoms are not biodegradable. Polyurethane condoms are madefrom plastic and are not biodegradable. Biodegradable latex condoms areavailable from some manufacturers.

How can I persuade my partner that we should use a condom?

It can be difficult to talk about using condoms. But you shouldn’tlet embarrassment become a health risk. The person you are thinkingabout having sex with may not agree at first when you say that you wantto use a condom when you have sex. These are some comments that mightbe made and some answers that you could try…

Don’t you trust me? Trust isn’t the point, people can have infections without realising it
It does not feel as good with a condom I’ll feel more relaxed, If I am more relaxed, I can make it feel better for you.
I don’t stay hard when I put on a condom I’ll help you put it on, that will help you keep it hard.
I am afraid to ask him to use a condom. He’ll think I don’t trust him. If you can’t ask him, you probably don’t trust him.
I can’t feel a thing when I wear a condom Maybe that way you’ll last even longer and that will make up for it
I don’t have a condom with me I do
It’s up to him… it’s his decision It’s your health. It should be your decision too!
I’m on the pill, you don’t need a condom I’d like to use it anyway. It will help to protect us from infections we may not realise we have.
It just isn’t as sensitive and I can’t feel a thing Maybe that way you will last even longer and that will make up for it
Putting it on interrupts everything Not if I help put it on
I guess you don’t really love me I do, but I am not risking my future to prove it
I will pull out in time Women can get pregnant and get STDs from pre-ejaculate
But I love you Then you’ll help us to protect ourselves.
Just this once Once is all it takes

There are many reasons to use condoms when having sex. You could gothrough these reasons with your partner and see what she/he thinks.

Reasons to use condoms

  1. Condoms are the only contraceptive that help prevent bothpregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (includingHIV) when used properly and consistently.
  2. Condoms are one of the most reliable methods of birth control when use properly and consistently.
  3. Condoms have none of the medical side-effects of some other birth control methods may have.
  4. Condomsare available in various shapes, colours, flavours, textures and sizes- to increase the fun of making love with condoms.
  5. Condomsare widely available in pharmacies, supermarkets and conveniencestores. You don’t need a prescription or have to visit a doctor.
  6. Condoms make sex less messy.
  7. Condoms are user friendly. With a little practice, they can also add confidence to the enjoyment of sex.
  8. Condomsare only needed when you are having sex unlike some othercontraceptives which require you to take or have them all of the time.

Here are also some tips that can help you to feel more confident and relaxed about using condoms.

Confidence tips

  • Keep condoms handy at all times. If things start gettingsteamy – you’ll be ready. It’s not a good idea to find yourself havingto rush out at the crucial moment to buy condoms – at the height of thepassion you may not want to.
  • When you buy condoms, don’t getembarrassed. If anything, be proud. It shows that you are responsibleand confident and when the time comes it will all be worthwhile. It canbe more fun to go shopping for condoms with your partner or friend.Nowadays, it is also easy to buy condoms discreetly on the internet.
  • Talkwith your partner about using a condom before having sex. It removesanxiety and embarrassment. Knowing where you both stand before thepassion stands will make you lot more confident that you both agree andare happy about using a condom.
  • If you are new to condoms,the best way to learn how to use them is to practice putting them on byyourself or your partner. It does not take long to become a master.
  • Ifyou feel that condoms interrupt you passion then try introducingcondoms into your lovemaking. It can be really sexy if your partnerhelps you put it on or you do it together.