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Problems with condoms

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Some people find condoms tricky to use. Sometimes things go wrong. Here's some help with some common problems.

Putting condoms on

Some men find rolling a condom over their erection is uncomfortable.

If using a larger and wider size condom doesn't help, one solution might be unrolling the condom a little first, then putting it over the erect penis the same way you would put a sock over a foot, being careful not to get air trapped under the condom or tear it.

Condoms and loss of sensation

If you are worried about loss of sensation opt for a very thin or light condom.

The thinner the condom, the better the sensation; the right size is also important.

Some condoms are available with ribbed, raised and shaped surfaces designed to increase sensation to both partners.

An advantage of Femidoms (female condoms) is the way they don’t reduce sensation for the man in the way male condoms can do.

Keeping the erection

If putting on a condom interferes with your erection, try gripping the base of your penis before you put it on - this traps the blood, helping to keep your penis hard.

A cock ring has the same effect but it lasts longer. Asking a partner to put the condom on can also help.

A larger brand of condom (such as Trojan Magnum, Pleasure Plus or Durex Comfort XL) might also be less restrictive to your erection. Larger brands should still stay on as the ring at the base is not any larger that other types of condom.

Femidoms may also be a solution if you find condoms restrictive.

Dealing with a latex allergy

For people allergic to latex (it makes their skin red or itchy), both male and female condoms are available that are made from non-latex materials.

These materials also don’t have a latex smell.

Condoms and interruptions

Having to stop during sex to look for a condom can be a passion killer.

Have them in places where they’ll be easy to get hold of. Keeping condoms in your wallet, handbag or by the bedside shows you’re taking responsibility for yourself and your sexual partner.

Asking a partner to use a condom 

You may have condoms but find it difficult to use them (or to ask someone else to use them).

It can be tricky introducing a condom into the situation, which is why it’s always better to bring the subject up long before sex starts. A partner may be relieved that you’ve mentioned it.

What if your partner says:
'Asking for a condom means you think I’ve got an infection or can’t be trusted'?

Tell them that you’d like to use a condom to protect their health as well as yours, as it’s possible either of you could have an infection without knowing.

If someone says that because you want to use condoms it must mean you have an infection, remind them that carrying and using condoms is a sign that a person is taking responsibility for their own health and their partner’s.

No one has the right to make you have sex without a condom if you don’t want to. If you feel pressured in any way to have sex you don’t want, tell your partner to stop or ask them to leave.

What to do when condoms break?

If you're having rougher or longer sex it could be that a condom might split. Obviously this could put you or your partner at risk of unwanted pregnancy, HIV or another sexually transmitted infection.

You could take emergency contraception to reduce the risk of pregnancy or Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to reduce the risk of becoming HIV positive - but you need to act fast.

Oral sex and HIV ››



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 14/6/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 14/6/2019

Content Author: Richard Scholey

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

University of California, San Francisco: Some Solutions to the Most Common Condom Problems. 1998

NAM Using condoms

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