Are you using condoms correctly? We've compiled a list of the most common mistakes you can make when using condoms.

Using condoms correctly might seem fool-proof, but there’s a number of common mistakes people can make. Condoms are the best over the counter contraceptive defence you’ve got against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy as long as you use it right.

It's important to realize that there are so maany different brands when it comes to condoms, as well as different shapes and sizes, so what might work well for one person might not work as well for another. Don't lose hope if you have had issues with putting them on in the past, try out a few on your own and once you find the type that works for you, you are already on your way to better sexual health.

Male latex condoms are 94% effective at preventing the transmission of HIV and other STIs, but this can drop to 80% with incorrect use.

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Condoms are the best defence against STDs. With the sharp rise in STDs in recent years, it is more important than ever to practice safe sex
When used incorrectly condom’s 98% effectiveness against pregnancy can drop to 82%. You might think that putting on a condom is self-explanatory, but there’s actually a number of common mistakes that you might never have considered.

Using An Expired Condom

Condoms start to lose strength and flexibility after their expiry date making them more likely to break during sex.

Is it better to use an expired condom than no condom at all? Yes. There is still a good chance that it won’t break. How and where a condom is stored makes a difference to its effectiveness. An expired condom that was kept in a cool, dark bedroom drawer is less likely to break than an expired condom that was kept in the bathroom closet close to a steam pipe.

Using Teeth To Open A Condom

Using condoms correctly should never involve teeth or any other sharp objects. Latex is a good barrier against semen and pathogens, but not against teeth. Even if it’s not visibly punctured or torn, a bitten condom may still be damaged enough to break.

Any standard condom wrapper has serrated edges to make it easier to open, so use that. It’s a two-handed – zero-toothed – operation.

Putting The Condom On Incorrectly

  • Too tight: The end of the condom needs a bit of space for semen to go. Up to 45.7% of people make this mistake.

  • Air left at the tip: Leaving air bubbles at the tip of the condom can cause it to burst during intercourse. If the condom does not have a reservoir tip, pinch the tip enough to leave a half-inch space for semen to collect.
    Inside out: It will unroll only with extreme (and possibly damaging) difficulty, and, if you flip it over and use it anyway, stuff that should stay on the inside will be on the outside.

  • Unrolling before putting it on: It’s more difficult to put on a condom that’s already unrolled so it also has a greater chance of breaking.

  • Partially unrolled: A condom that isn’t unrolled all the way onto the penis can slip off during intercourse and it won’t do a great job of preventing contact between people’s parts while it’s on.

Using Oil Based Lubrication

Water-based lubrication used during vaginal and anal sex is a smart measure to aid against condom wear-and-tear. On the other hand, you might want to avoid oil-based lubricants (e.g. petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and cooking oil) since they are known to weaken the latex, causing breakage.

If you feel the condom break at any point during sexual activity, stop immediately, withdraw, remove the broken condom, and put on a new condom.

Late Application Of Condom

Researchers from Indiana University analysed 50 studies across 16 years of data on condom usage. One thing they discovered was that between 17% and 51.1% of people reported putting a condom on after intercourse has already begun (which doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to STD prevention).

Early Removal Of Condom

The same researchers found that between 13.6% and 44.7% of the participants reported removing the condom before intercourse was complete.

A new condom must be used for every act of vaginal, anal and oral sex throughout the entire sex act. After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, grip the rim of the condom and carefully withdraw. Then gently pull the condom off the penis, making sure that semen doesn’t spill out. Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the trash where others won’t handle it.

These 6 common mistakes with condoms can happen to anybody. We’re not always 100% careful when it comes down to it. But it’s important to make sure you get tested for STIs regularly to ensure you are infection free. Taking care of your sexual health lets you enjoy your sex life to the fullest, worry and STI free.

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Buy an At-Home Sexual Health Test

Test and treat your sexual health from home with our range of at-home STD tests.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley