Getting used to condoms can take a little practice, but don't worry; it doesn't take long before they start to feel like an essential part of your sex life.
Here are some of the main things you need to know.
- Always choose condoms that carry the European CE mark, a recognised safety standard. Don’t use novelty condoms unless they carry the European CE mark. It's even better if they also carry the British Standard mark too.
- Never use two condoms together. Whether that's two male condoms or a female and a male condom. They will rub against each other, and this friction can weaken them and make them more likely to break or fail.
- Check the expiry date on the packaging. Condoms don't last forever.
- If the condom packet looks squashed, worn and faded, especially if it has been in your wallet or purse for some time, don't use it. The condom inside could be damaged. Throw it away and get a free, fresh, new one.
- Buy condoms before going on holiday to avoid problems with language and trying to find somewhere to buy them.
- Use plenty of water-based lubricant (lube), such as KY jelly, Durex Play, etc (available from most supermarkets, pharmacies, etc.). Lubricant can help stop the condom from drying up and splitting during sex.
- If you and your partner choose to have anal sex use plenty of extra lubricant. There's no natural lubricant in the anus, so adding lube will help make sex more comfortable and will help stop the condom from splitting.
- DO NOT USE body lotions, moisturiser, massage oil, body oil, lipstick or any other oil-based product with latex condoms. This is because the oil reacts with the latex rubber weakening the condom, making it split.
- Using a condom during oral sex can help to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including those that affect the mouth or throat such as herpes, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Try using flavoured condoms for variety.
- Use a condom every time you have sex to protect against STIs.
- To doubly protect against unintended pregnancy, use another form of contraceptive as well, such as the Pill or Implant. More in the contraception section.
- Make sure you use a condom that fits and is comfortable for the person wearing it. Try the range of sizes available. This will help make sex more enjoyable.
- Never use the same condom twice.
- Make sure you put a condom on the correct way round. If it's inside out it's likely that it will roll off during sex.
- Practice makes perfect. Become skilled at putting a condom on quickly and safely... maybe in the dark too! That way you'll find it easy to use a condom when the time comes.
- Enjoy the moment of putting on a condom with a partner. Make it a slow sexy part of foreplay.
- Keep condoms in lots of places where sex might happen or on your person at all times. That way you'll be prepared for whatever happens.
- Don't leave it up to the other person. Not getting an STI or getting yourself or someone else pregnant is your responsibility. Be prepared!