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Proper Condom Use

Using a Condom the Right Way

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Updated October 18, 2010

The primary reason that condoms fail to prevent HIV/STD infection or pregnancy is incorrect or inconsistent use, not failure of the condom itself. Consistent use means using a condom with each act of anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Correct condom use includes all of the following steps:
  • Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • Use the condom throughout sex- from start to finish.
  • Put on the condom as soon as erection occurs and before any vaginal, anal, or oral contact with the penis.
  • Hold the tip of the condom and unroll it onto the erect penis, leaving space at the tip of the condom, yet ensuring that no air is trapped in the condom' s tip.
  • Adequate lubrication is important to prevent condom breakage, but use only water-based lubricants, such as glycerine or lubricating jellies available at any pharmacy. NEVER use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion, or baby oil, which can weaken the condom.
  • Withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom firmly to the base of the penis to keep it from slipping off.
  • Condom users should make sure that the condom expiration date has not passed or the manufacturing date does not indicate the condom is too old (if the package is not opened, condoms are good up to 5 years after the manufacture date).

Condoms Users Have Plenty of Options

There are several types of condoms. Nearly all types offer protection against HIV and other STDs.

Condoms that Offer Protection From HIV & STDs

  • Latex Condoms for Men
    Latex condoms are made of a particular kind of rubber. Laboratory studies show that intact latex condoms provide a highly effective barrier to sperm and micro-organisms, including HIV and the much smaller hepatitis B virus. Their effectiveness has been proven over many years.Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms.
  • Synthetic Condoms
    For people who are allergic to latex, several new types of materials are being used to make condoms. One new type is polyurethane, a soft plastic. Another new type is Tactylon TM, a synthetic latex. Lab tests have shown that both these materials provide an effective barrier against sperm, bacteria, and viruses such as HIV.
  • Polyurethane Condoms for Women
    The female condom (Reality TM) fits inside the vagina and covers some of the area outside of the vagina. It also is made of polyurethane. When a male condom cannot be used, couples should consider using a female condom.

    How to Use the Female Condom

  • There are two important points to consider with polyurethane condoms:
    • Unlike latex condoms, synthetic condoms such as male and female polyurethane condoms can be used with either water-based or oil-based lubricants.
    • Although not as thoroughly tested as latex condoms, synthetic condoms likely provide similar protection.

Condoms That Offer No Protection from HIV & STDs

  • Lambskin condoms
    These condoms are made from animal membranes that contain tiny holes. While they can prevent pregnancy, they should not be used for STD or HIV prevention because viruses may be able to pass through these holes.
  • Novelty Condoms
    Novelty (play) condoms are for sexual amusement only. The FDA does not allow them to be labeled as condoms, and they should never be used for STD/HIV or pregnancy prevention.

Use Oral Protection

Even though their risk is less than with unprotected anal and vaginal sex, people who engage in oral sex can reduce their risk of getting HIV or another STD by placing a barrier over the vagina or anus. In addition to the male condom, a product designed to reduce the risk of acquiring an STD during oral sex is now being sold in the United States. The Sheer Glyde Dam is a 10" x 6" latex sheet that the FDA has authorized for marketing in the United States. Plastic food wrap, dental dams (pieces of latex used by dentists), and condoms that have been cut open all have been used to cover the vagina or anus during oral sex, although there is no information about how well these materials work.

Making a Dental Dam

Performing Safer Oral Sex

Important Spermicide Warning!

Although studies indicate that nonoxynol-9, a spermicide, kills HIV in laboratory testing, it has been proven that nonoxynol-9 actually increases the risk of transmission of STD's including HIV. In fact, there has been a recent push to ban the substance all together. Therefore, latex condoms with nonoxynol-9 should not be used.
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