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How to use a condom

a woman touching a man's chest

Using a condom gets easier the more you do it, especially if you practice on your own when masturbating.

When it comes to sex you can put it on yourself or ask your partner to do it.

Here's how to correctly use a condom:

  • Check the condom has a British Kitemark and is not past its ‘use by’ date (a condom should last five years if stored correctly; the ‘use by’ date is printed on the wrapper).
  • Take care not to rip the condom (eg, with your teeth) when taking it from its wrapper.
  • Make sure you have the condom the right way up by placing it over your finger tip. If you can’t roll it down, you need to turn it over before putting it on the penis. If you notice a condom is inside out once it’s on the penis, start again with a new one, as there may be some sperm on it.
  • The penis must be fully erect before the condom goes on - if not, it’s more likely to come off (1).

 putting a condom on

  • Try not to stretch or unroll the condom before it goes on as this can weaken it.
  • If the condom has a teat at the tip, squeeze the air out of it. Make sure no air or lubricant is trapped under the condom.
  • Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis (otherwise it’s more likely to come off). (2.) 

rolling the condom down the penis

  • If lubrication is needed for anal or vaginal sex, apply water-based or silicone-based lube to the condom once it’s on. Don’t use oil-based lubes – they can make a condom split. Hand cream, oils from the kitchen, massage oils, Vaseline, hair and bath products are all oil-based. Don’t use spit as it dries quickly leaving the condom prone to breaking. Be sure to use water-based or silicone-based lube (3).

applying lubricant to the condom

Condom Do's and Don'ts:

  • Do check it from time to time and after half an hour change it for a new one. A condom is more likely to split if sex lasts over 30 minutes.
  • Do make sure that the condom doesn’t come off inside your partner: after you ejaculate, grip the base of your penis before pulling out.
  • Do put used condoms in a bin, do not put them in the toilet as they can block it.
  • Don't reuse condoms. A condom should never be used more than once.
  • Don't use condoms and Femidoms together (or two condoms at once) - it's more likely to cause either or both to split.

How to use a femidom ››



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 3/6/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 3/6/2019

Content Author: Richard Scholey

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

Male condom use -- The right way to use a male condom, Centers for Disease Control, March 2016

Condoms and lube, GMFA, April 2015

How do I use a condom?, NHS Choices, July 2015

Why does sex hurt?, NHS Choices, May 2015

Durex. FAQs

NAM. How to use condoms and lubricant

NAM. Condoms. 2011

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