Condoms give you the best protection against STIs

If you’re having any kind of sex, be it vaginal, anal or oral, use a condom with lube or a dental dam for your own peace of mind and to also protect the person you’re having sex with.

And if you're using and sharing sex toys, play it safe by putting condoms and lube on them as STIs can still be spread between people via toys.

You should only use a condom or dam once, so always carry extras.

How condoms work

Condoms work by stopping bodily fluids - semen, blood and vaginal fluids - passing from one person to another.

For a condom to work properly, put one on before sexual contact. This is important because pre-cum fluid that gets released from an erect penis can transmit infections. Condoms work best when used with water-based lube as it prevents the condom from breaking and also increases pleasure.

Remember that using one condom is enough. Double the condom doesn’t double your protection. Using two condoms will only cause friction and make them more likely to break during sex.

If you’re not wanting to get pregnant, consider using another form of contraception alongside condoms. For more information, check the resources on contraception.

Read our tips on how to use a condom or watch the video below.

Before using a condom, check that it has not passed its expiry date.

As you open the packet, do so carefully so you do not damage or make a tear in the condom.

When the penis is erect, pinch the air out of the tip of the condom and roll it down over the penis.

Water-based lubricants should be used on the outside of the condom to make the experience more pleasurable and to reduce the risk of the condom tearing.

Never use oil-based lubricants such as massage oil or Vaseline as they can weaken the condom.

After ejaculation, hold onto the base of the condom as the penis is pulled out so it does not stay behind.

Tie a knot in the condom and put it in the bin. Avoid putting it down the toilet as this can cause a blockage in the plumbing.

Remember to always use a new condom each time you have sex, or change from having one type of sex to another.

Last updated: April 2024