Condoms 101

Condoms 101

What are external condoms and internal condoms?

External condoms and internal condoms are barrier methods of birth control. They prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from entering the vagina and joining the egg. They are also the only method of birth control to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, by preventing contact with blood and sexual fluids and covering some skin. They can be used with vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

External condoms fit over a penis. They are made of latex, polyurethane, or animal tissue (lambskin). Of 100 women whose partners use condoms, about 15 will become pregnant in the first year of typical use. Some condoms are coated with spermicide.

Internal condoms fit into the vagina. They also cover part of the vulva. They are made of polyurethane or another type of plastic called nitrile. Of 100 women who use the internal condom, 21 will become pregnant in the first year.

The better you are about using condoms correctly every time you have sex, the better they’ll work. But there’s a small chance of pregnancy even if you always use them the right way every single time.

How do I use external condoms?

Before putting on the external condom:

-Store condoms in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight (wallets and glove compartments do not count).

-Check the expiration date before using.

-Tear the condom package carefully - without using your teeth - to open.

-If the condoms looks damaged, discolored, or brittle, do not use.

-Add a drop of lubricant inside the condom for extra pleasure, if you like.


To put on:

-Pull back the foreskin, unless circumcised, before rolling on the condom.

-Leave about a half-inch of space at the tip to collect semen.

-Pinch the air out of the tip with one hand while placing it on the penis.

-Unroll the condom over the penis with the other hand.

-Roll it all the way down the base of the penis.

-Smooth out any air bubbles to prevent breaks.

-Lubricate the outside of the condom with water-based lubricant only, if you like.


To take off:

-Pull the penis out before it softens

-Hold the condom against the base of the penis while you pull out.

-Tie the condom with a knot so the semen doesn’t spill

-Throw the condom away in the trash. DO NOT REUSE

-What else can I do to make external condoms or internal condoms work better?

-Use them every time you have sex.

-Put it in place before the penis, or mouth, goes in or near the vagina, or anus.

-Use water-based lubricants with vaginal and anal sex. This may increase sensitivity and help prevent tears. Oils such as baby oil and petroleum jelly can make condoms and dental dams break.

-Use a condom or dental dam only once.

-Do not “double up” (use two condoms, or external and internal condoms together) as this increases the risk of breakage.

-Read and follow the instructions that come with the condoms you use.-


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