How To Put On a Condom

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What is a condom?

Condoms areΒ rubbery sheathsΒ that are worn over the penis to protect against pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are designed to be used forΒ all penetrative sexual activity,Β including oral, vaginal and anal sex.

As a method of contraception, condoms provideΒ aΒ physical barrierΒ which prevents semen from entering the vagina during sexual activity. As the sperm cannot pass through the latex or alternative material, this prevents the sperm from fertilising an egg.

Condoms are also used to reduce the risk of transmissionΒ ofΒ sexually transmitted infections, as the barrier reduces skin and genital contact between sexual partners.

Condoms come in variousΒ sizes, colours, textures and flavours to provide options for the user based onΒ intended useΒ andΒ preference. While they’re usually made of latex, other materials, such as polyurethane, are available for those with allergies or different preferences.

Effectiveness of condoms

Condoms are 98% effectiveΒ at preventing pregnancy. However, withΒ typicalΒ (β€˜real world’) use, they are aroundΒ 82% effective.

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Applying a condom

1. Inspect the condom packaging:

  • There should be no breaks, tears or evidence of tampering
  • Check the expiry date to ensure the condom is in date
  • Check for a BSI kite mark and European CE mark

2. Tear open the packet and remove the condom:

  • Condoms can tear easily- do not use teeth, and be careful with nails and jewellery

3. Check you are holding the condom the right way up:

  • You need to be able to roll the condom downwards – if you have tried to apply the condom upside down, discard it and use a new condom.

4. Pinch the tip of the condom to expel any air

5. Pull back the foreskin if the penis is uncircumcised

6. Place the condom on the tip of the erect penis and roll it down the shaft using your other hand until it is fully unrolled. The fit should be snug.


Condoms shouldΒ only be applied to an erect penis.Β 

WhilstΒ water or silicon-basedΒ lubricants are safe to be used with a condom,Β oil-based lubricants are NOT. Oil based lubricantsΒ canΒ degrade latex and damage a condom’s integrity.

Removing a condom

1. When withdrawing the penis, secure the condom at the base of the penis to ensure the condom does not slide off

2. It is good practice to check the condom after intercourse for any breakages. If a break or tear is noted after sex, advice should be sought regarding whether any treatment is required or advised to prevent pregnancy or STI transmission.

3. Remove the condom from the penis, taking care not to spill any semen or allow the penis to touch the other person’s genitals

4. Discard the condom in a bin (condoms should not be put down the toilet as they can cause a blockage)Β 


Once removed, condoms should never be reused, and a new condom should be used for each sexual encounter.

Video demonstration


Dr Grace Farrington


  • British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). Condoms. Available from: [LINK]
  • Contraception Choices. Condoms. Available from: [LINK]
  • Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH). FSRH Clinical Guideline: Barrier Methods for Contraception and STI Prevention.Β Published in 2015. Available from: [LINK]


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