Originally published: 31.MAY.2018
Last updated: 17.AUG.2023

If you are sexually active, you are likely familiar with condoms - a popular barrier method of contraception. And while using condoms correctly may seem fool-proof, there are several common mistakes that people can make.

Condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That’s why if you are not ready to start a family and want to enjoy your sex life infection-free, using condoms correctly and consistently is the best place to start.

Read more about condom use, how to use condoms correctly, and the 6 most common mistakes made when using condoms.

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When to use a Condom

Condoms should be used every time you have sex, this includes both vaginal and anal sex. Remember, using condoms correctly is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and protect yourself and your partner from STDs.

You should be able to find free condoms in local sexual health clinics or you can purchase them from a drugstore.

As well as using protection correctly, regular sexual health testing is one of the best steps you can take towards ensuring your sexual health and your partners are a priority. Whether you have just become sexually active or have started a new sexual relationship it’s always a good idea to check in. You can do this from the comfort of your home with LetsGetChecked’s range of Sexual Health Testing options.

Related article: How do you Check for STDs From Home?

Using a Condom Correctly

There are two types of condoms: external condoms worn on the penis (male condoms) and internal condoms worn inside the vagina (female condoms). Below we cover how to use external condoms correctly.

First things first, keep in mind that there are so many different brands of condoms available, including different shapes and sizes. Don’t feel disheartened if you have had issues with using a condom correctly in the past, find a type and brand that works for you and follow the following steps on how to put on a male condom correctly.

  • Check the expiration date!
  • Open and remove the condom from the wrapper carefully
  • Pinch the tip of the condom and roll it onto the erect penis
  • After ejaculation, hold the condom at the base
  • Pull out while holding the condom in place
  • Carefully remove the used condom and dispose of it in the trash

6 Common Mistakes Made When Using Condoms

#1 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? Technically, yes. There is still a chance that it won’t break. How and where a condom is stored makes a difference in 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.

#2 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.

  • The 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, what should stay on the inside will now 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 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 sex 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 baby oil) since they are known to weaken the latex, causing breakage.

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

Late Application of Condom

Condoms are most effective when they are applied before sexual intercourse. Applying a condom after a period of unprotected penetration can put you and your partner at risk of contracting an STD.

Early Removal of Condom

A new condom must be used for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sexual activity. 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.

Using condoms correctly every time you have sex is an important step to take to ensure your sex life remains safe. Another important step is regular sexual health testing. If you would prefer to test from home, you can with LetsGetChecked’s range of Sexual Health tests.

The most reliable way to check for STDs at home is with an at-home STD test. The process is simple:

  • The test is shipped directly to you
  • Activate your test and answer a few health-related questions
  • Your health record will be reviewed by a medical team member and should you need any support services, they will be provided
  • Collect your sample at a time that suits you
  • Send your sample back to our laboratory using the pre-paid shipping label provided
  • Your sample will be processed in an anonymous and timely manner
  • Your results will be reviewed by our team of doctors. A member of our nursing team will contact you to

You should consider taking the LetsGetChecked STD test if

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

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