How to correctly use an external (sometimes called 'male') 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 (e.g. 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 – otherwise the condom could come off (1).
using a condom step 1
  • 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).
using a condom step 2
  • 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).
using a condom step 3

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 use a condom with an oil-based lubricant as this can make them split. Water-based or silicone-based lube (such as KY Jelly) can make condoms even more effective as it helps to prevent friction which can lead to tears.
  • Don't reuse condoms. A condom should never be used more than once.
  • Don't use different types of condoms (external and internal) together (or two condoms at once) – it's more likely to cause either or both to split.