Can you recall when, and by whom, you were taught to put on a condom? I’m talking to both genders here. I’m guessing most of the men reading this are thinking back to about high school age. I’m also guessing most of the women are shrugging and thinking, “only guys need to learn that stuff.” There’s a good chance most men learned ages ago and probably not from a reliable source. There’s also a good chance most women have never been taught or just learned from their partners. In their case technique may be outmoded, faulty or just plain wrong. Just sticking a condom on your penis may not be enough to do the job right. Your technique may also do the opposite of its purpose and make actually make it less safe and effective. I’d like share some proper condom usage tips.
Let’s start before we even put the condom on. If you were jumping into the deep end of the pool, you wouldn’t want to do it in an old leaky floatie. You’d want to check it for holes and make sure it’s not cracked or weakened with age. Make sure to check your condom this way before you even dive in. Make sure the package isn’t past the expiration date; condoms do have a shelf life. Keep them in a cool dry place. It’s also recommended to keep them out of direct sunlight. Don’t keep them in your pants pocket or wallet either. A protective case is ideal but a shirt pocket or purse is good too.
Make sure the package has not already been torn or unsealed. You can usually tell if it still feels like air is trapped inside most packages. I don’t suggest doing this immediately before putting it on as this could be a mood killer. Check them ahead of time. Another thing you may want to do ahead of time is make sure it’s the right size. There are several websites where you can measure yourself (so grab a measuring tape) and check it against their chart. Don’t underestimate yourself. Some men are surprised to find they could benefit from a larger condom.
If you find yourself opening the condom in the heat of the moment, or even any time you open the package, be careful how you open it. Ripping open with your teeth may seem romantically dramatic, but you can damage the condom in the process. Using anything sharp to open the package can do damage as well. Stick with the manufacturers tear strip. Take a moment to check the condom to make sure you haven’t slashed or caught it in some way while opening.
Now you have your as yet unrolled condom out of the package. I’ve actually read of people unrolling the condom before putting it on (not you, right?) so I’m going to point out that is a no-no. You’ll be making it harder on yourself (harder…giggle..) and potentially tearing the condom in the process. Your still rolled up condom has a little handhold, or finger hold as it were, on top. Make sure you’re putting it on the right way by making sure it’s unrolling in the proper direction. Do this before it touches your penis! Rolling it on then reversing would expose your partner.
Pinch the tip between your fingers and begin rolling down while gripping the tip. Make sure you leave this bit of extra at the tip. Having the tip of the penis crammed into the tip of the condom is going to really distract from the pleasure. The extra room is also important because semen needs somewhere to go, thus the term “reservoir tip.” Pinching will also help you to make sure all the air is removed from the tip too. While this may seem obvious, do make sure the penis is fully erect. Also, keep in mind that if the penis is uncircumcised you might want to pull back the foreskin before applying. You can also put a drop of lube in the reservoir tip, but make sure not to apply to much as this can cause the condom to slip off.
Next roll the condom fully down the penis. Don’t stop part way, no matter how much of a rush you’re in. Make sure it covers down to the base. Also make sure there are no air bubbles along the way. Bubbles increase the chances of tears. There are a few things to keep in mind if you’ve decided to spice things up a bit and are applying the condom with your mouth. Place it in your mouth with the reservoir inside of your mouth. Hold it with your lips in front of your teeth. Teeth and condoms are a bad combination. Place your mouth with the condom over the head of the penis and allow the condom to unroll as you go down the shaft. It’s ok to use your hands to guide things along but running your lips up and down the shaft can help to get rid of any air bubbles.
Now that the condom is on you can apply lube. Lubricant will help minimize friction, which in turn minimizes tearing. Use the right lube for the job. Water based lubricant is great, and silicone works too. Stay away from oil based lubricants as they break down the latex condoms increasing tears and breaks. Only polyurethane condoms can be used with oil based lubes, but they have a natural tendency to tear anyway. This may seem like another obvious tip but if it wasn’t manufactured as a personal lubricant, don’t use it. Stay away from things like Vaseline or coconut oil. They should never be used with condoms.
Check periodically to make sure the condom is on. This may seem like the antithesis of fun but a quick check can catch a possible problem before it worsens. Condoms slipping off while inside a partner is a common cause of condom failure and just as dangerous as a tear. After ejaculation, grasp the base of the condom firmly and withdraw the penis. As much as I hate to be an afterglow buzzkill, you should pull out soon after ejaculation. You don’t want to wait until the penis softens as this increases the chance of leakage or slippage upon withdrawal. Once the condom is removed, dispose of immediately. Next obvious tip is don’t use it again. It’s hard to believe we had to tell people this, but apparently just like unrolling the condom fully before applying and using non-lubricant specific items, this has been known to happen.
You may have read this and thought, “What was all that for? I already do that?” Then kudos to you, my friend. To everyone else, I hope this cured you of some bad habits you may not even have been aware of. Sometimes we do things we think are right but are just routine. Perhaps there were only one or two things you needed to tweak to improve things. That’s awesome too. Making sure you’re condom application is top notch will help ensure they do their job of helping to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STI’s.