How To Use Condoms and Prevent Condom Failure

How to Properly Use a Condom
How to Properly Use a Condom. Photo Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Use Condoms Properly:

OTC birth control is not perfect. Let’s face it, condoms can break and tear during sex. When condoms break, semen can leak out, so the use of vaginal spermicides with condoms may help to increase your pregnancy protection should condom failure occur. Typically, 2-5% of all condoms tear when you use condoms. This can generally be prevented by making sure that you use condoms the right way as well as using the correct size condom.

You will lower your chances for condom failure if you have a good understanding of how to properly use condoms.

So, if you are unsure about what you are doing, make sure to read the directions, practice putting on condoms, and don't be afraid to ask your doctor about any questions you may have.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Before you use condoms, check the expiration date on the condom package. Throw out the condoms and open a new box if the condoms have expired.

  2. Read the directions.

  3. Check the condom wrapper for any punctures by feeling the package/wrapper to see if it contains an air bubble. Throw out the condom if there is no air bubble and try a new one.

  4. Carefully tear open the condom package, making certain not to tear the condom. Inspect the condom for any obvious tears.

  5. Before you can use condoms, your penis must be erect. You should put on the condom after your erection but before there is any contact between your penis and your partner. Make sure you are putting the condom on the right way by leaving room at the top. You can do this by pinching the tip of the condom to remove any air. This allows room for the ejaculate after the condom is rolled on the penis.

  1. Make sure that you are rolling the condom on in the proper direction. Place it on so that it unrolls easily down the outside of the penis. You should not have to put your fingers inside the condom to unroll it.

  2. Begin to roll the condom down the shaft of the penis while holding the tip. There should be room at the end (tip) of the condom, but there should not be any air trapped inside. Continue to roll the condom the rest of the way down the penis.

  1. After ejaculation, make sure to take the condom off properly by holding the rim (base of the condom) firmly while carefully withdrawing your penis. Then, slide the condom off (away from the vagina).

  2. Tie the condom in a knot -- away from the vagina. Then you can throw it out in a garbage can. It is not a wise idea to flush a condom down the toilet as this can cause the toilet to clog.


  1. Don’t use condoms once their expiration date has passed, and make sure to store condoms properly (not in hot places or wallets).

  2. Never reuse a condom. You should always change your condom each time you have any type of sex (vaginal, oral or anal). Do not use the same condom if you switch from, let's say, vaginal sex to anal intercourse.

  3. Some people prefer to lubricate the outside of the condom. Using lubrication can help reduce the risk of condom breakage. Make sure to only use water-based lubricants (such as KY jelly, Astroglide, etc.) or silicone-based lubricants intended for male condom use. Any oil-based or petroleum-based products (like Vaseline) will compromise the integrity the latex condoms.

  4. Some men find that putting a little bit of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom can increase their pleasure. If you do this, make sure to only use a very small drop as you don’t want the condom to slide off. Keep in mind that frequent use of N-9 (nonoxynol-9) based lubricants could increase your risk of STDs, so do not use lubricants containing N-9 if you are having a lot of sex.

  1. Finally:

A parting note about how to use condoms and condom failure... sometimes, no matter what you do, a condom will break. It is always possible that the condom could have been damaged sometime during or after production. Remember, no method is 100% effective!

If you realize that your condom broke or tore during condom use (or if it slipped off), your partner has the option to use emergency contraception.

The sooner the morning-after pill is taken, the more effective it is. It's not too late -- an unplanned pregnancy can still be prevented.

What You Need:

  • Condom (have more than one in case you make a mistake)
  • Lubrication (if you prefer)
  • NO excuses

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