Everyone knows shower sex is a little awkward, what with the great potential for falling, slipping and grabbing a wet body for support, or having one of you feel super cold and the other like you’re drowning. From getting shampoo in some place you’d rather not, to risking a penis injury, there are a lot more scary possibilities in shower sex than you might realize. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with Karen Elizabeth Boyle, MD, FACS, to get the facts about shower sex dangers, so that “this is weird” will be the only thing you have to worry about.

1. Yes, you can totally get pregnant from shower sex. While a lot of people might think you can’t because the water washes everything away, there is nothing about shower sex that protects against pregnancy. Not only that, but when you type “shower sex” into Google, “shower sex and pregnancy” is the second-most popular autocomplete search phrase (after “shower sex lyrics” for some reason), so clearly there’s still some confusion that point. Boyle says, “Using soap and water or washing out the ejaculate once you have had intercourse does not prevent you from getting pregnant at all. Sperm are amazingly resilient and can survive and swim for days in the female reproductive system, so don’t make the mistake of counting on water or gravity as a contraceptive.”

2. Water is not lube and anything else you use in its place can make things much worse. Water isn’t harmful during sex, but it is not lube and will often wash away one’s natural mucus and lubrication. As a result, some people will be tempted to use whatever is handy to replace their normal lubricant (soap, shampoo), but Boyle says those can both cause a lot of irritation to the vulva and vagina, as well as cause dryness of the penile skin. Boyle added, “The vagina has been known to even develop cuts and tears from the non-lubricated penetration, which could mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection, cause vaginitis, and the change in pH to the vaginal skin can attract all of those little microbes near the rectum to travel up the woman’s urethra, causing a greater risk for real UTI or kidney infection.”

3. Falling isn’t the only way you could get hurt. Between the weirdo positions you’re pretty much forced to get into when you’re having shower sex, coupled with everything being slippery in the shower, your chances of his penis bending in in a weird angle are easily greater than in just about any other location. Boyle says if that happens, “men can actually risk fracturing their penis if the penis bends or snaps during a strange sexual position, resulting in the penis become very swollen and bruised, and requiring an awkward trip to the ER to avoid serious damage to the penis.”

4. Yes, you can still totally get an STI (and it might even up your chances). “Can you get an STD in the shower” is another popular Google search term and I can see why it would be. Again, the idea that water washes away everything is a nice idea, but Boyle says, “Shower sex is not protective against the transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, condyloma, HIV, or any other disease. In fact, with possible irritation of the vulva and penis occurring during shower sex, skin can get more raw and irritated, which could actually increase the risk of transmission of some diseases.”

5. Condoms are potentially less effective in the shower. Obviously wearing one is better than having zero protection, but you shouldn’t rely on this as your only form of contraception in the shower, and without one, you have no prevention against the spread of disease. According to the Lifestyles condoms website, it’s safe to use a condom in water “as long as the condom remains on the penis.” Unfortunately, Boyle says condoms have a greater likelihood of slipping when wet, and a condom can’t be as effective as it needs to be if it’s not even on. Lifestyles’ site recommends to put the condom on before you get in the shower and to note that “if the water contains chemicals such as chlorine or additives such as bath oil or bubble bath, it may harm a latex condom.” While the odds of bubble bath shooting from your showerhead are slim, it’s important to note, just in case your bathroom ever becomes a cartoon.

Follow Lane on Twitter and Instagram.

Lane Moore Sex & Relationships Editor I’m Lane Moore, sex & relationships editor at Cosmopolitan.com.


8 Small Ways To Make Shower Sex Better, Because You Must Choose Your Positions Wisely

So you want to have sex in the shower. Maybe you’re feeling a little adventurous. Maybe you live in New York City with three roommates in two bunk beds and this is your only hope for privacy. Maybe your SO has BO and you’d like to avoid that whole conversation. Shower sex to the rescue!

Some naysayers like to say shower sex is difficult, but frankly, the benefits outweigh the challenges. For one thing, the acoustics: if you tend to break into song during sex, guess what? You’re going to sound amazing. It’s also extremely efficient. You know how some people shower before sex? Or right after, like that Catholic guy who Miranda dated in SATC season one? You can do it DURING. How’s that for time saving? (Pretty darn good, I’d say, even if you’re not showering all that often).

There’s also the matter of moon sex, which is what hippies like to call boning during your period. Two great things about this when combined with showering: you can spare your towels (and also spare yourself the extremely unsexy act of pausing to get towels) while also effortlessly recreating the best scene from Psycho. There’s no losing here.

There are some downsides though. One is safety: both sexual and otherwise. Condoms haven’t exactly been tested for hot water and shower gel situations, and since water can mess with lubricant (both the natural and the water-based kind from the bottle), you might be more prone to breaking a condom.

As far as your non-sex protection, hard slippery surfaces plus balancing plus thrusting have been known to cause accidents. Let’s all take a moment of silence for Hannah Horvath’s parental horror on Girls. (Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, this other awful incident happened to Hannah in the shower on Girls too. Shower shenanigans=not a good time on Girls).

Disclaimers aside, this is America, so you know that somebody, somewhere has designed a product you can buy for shower sex. In fact, there’s a lot of products. Thanks, capitalism! These, combined with good old fashioned guidance from the internet, can seriously hack your shower sex experience.

Let’s optimize your bathtub booty!

First, your shopping list:

1. Stuff To Grab On To

Did you know people have created suction-on handles and foot rests for the shower? They’re for old people and shaving, and thus probably not meant to hold your full body weight. But they can still be game changers for keeping your balance or, erm, gaining special access, during pregame tomfoolery.

Safe-er Bath & Shower Handle, $26, Amazon; Changing Lifestyles Foot Rest, $9, Amazon

2. Shower-Safe Toys

Vibrating sponges, loofahs, and waterproof toys could all be in your shower right now. Meow.

Sportsheets Vibrating Sponge, $15, Amazon; Vibrating Loofah, $44, Amazon;

3. Edible Soap

Another thing you didn’t know existed: flavored, non-toxic shower gel (think about it a minute and it will make sense). This is almost as much fun as that soap you can write on the tub with. Almost.

Shunga Edible Shower Gel, $25, Amazon

4. Non-Stick Mats And Treads

The best part this totally useful product: no one needs to know what these are really for. Blame your visiting grandma! An adorable mat on the base of the tub will help you keep your footing, while a few strategically placed treads on the shower walls will give your back some traction. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. (I mean that you can rest your back on them while you have standing intercourse in your shower).

Kikkerland Bathmat, $14, Amazon

5. Silicon-Based Lube

Sadly, water washes away water-based lubes. And since that includes the natural kind of lube, you might want to keep a silicone-based formula in your shower regardless of whether you need it on dry land.

6. General Mood Setters

I mean, whatever that means to you. May we recommend some music and the tub-appropriate equivalent of scented candles, the shower bomb?

SoundBot Shower Speaker, $13, Amazon

7. Birth Control Other Than Condoms

Again, condoms haven’t been officially approved for wet-and-wild conditions, so you should have backup: a pill, an IUD, the other, Elaine Benes kind of sponge… you get the picture.

8. Choose Your Positions Wisely…

We would be remiss to say that sex in the shower is always the greatest idea. To be frank, it can be a little dangerous, and it’s really easy to back into a faucet, slip out over the side of the tub, or end up gasping for air under the shower head. With these factors in mind, it’s advisable to choose your positions wisely.

If You’re Their Height Or Taller:

Try resting your back against the wall and wrapping one leg around his waist. If you’re working with a tub situation, a well-place tread sticker on the edge could work as a great footrest.

If They’re Stronger:

Try wrapping both legs around his waist, and consider buying one of those stick-on treads for your wall that we mentioned earlier.

If You Want To Keep It Simple:

Face the wall, brace your hands, and bend over. It’s really that easy. Note: this is also fairly slip-proof and stable, especially with a mat (at least as far as slippery-surface upright sex goes), so, feel free to go to town!

If You’re Not Feeling The Vertical Thing And/Or Are Drunk In Love:

Have him recline and get on top (preferably under the shower stream to stay warm). Now say it with me: SURFBORT.

If Want To Lay Down But Can’t Because You Live In A Small Apartment And Bathtubs Are For Rich People:

Try it lotus style: have him sit with his legs extended and get on his lap, with your legs wrapped around his waist for leverage. Bonus: This is super touchy-feely and romantic! Other bonus: he sits in the soap scum!

And Most Importantly: Know When To Give Up.

The number one rule of shower sex is to have fun, so please: be safe, get some accessories, and first and foremost, do what feels good to you, including giving up on shower sex. I won’t tell anybody.

Want more of Bustle’s Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy

FYI, Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article.

The Complete Guide to Shower Sex

By ASTROGLIDE Team Relationships

1. Have Your Protection Ready

One of the best things about shower sex is that it can be departure from your normal routine.

If you and your partner usually get busy in the bedroom, getting steamy together in the shower can be an exciting change of pace. However, don’t let shaking things up mean that you aren’t prepared.

If you and your partner use protection like condoms or a diaphragm, make sure that they are ready to go beforehand. Nothing kills the mood like having to jump out of a warm shower while dripping wet to locate a condom and then wrestle with its slippery wrapper. To keep things sexy and safe, have your protection ready to go before you hop in the shower together so you’ll be ready to go.

Just keep in mind if you’re using condoms that certain soaps and oils can degrade the condom, which can lead to potential breaks. To play it safe, the only products that should come in contact with the condom is a quality water based, silicone based, or hybrid lube.

2. Soap Each Other Up

As any shower sex aficionado can tell you, the real fun isn’t just in doing the deed.

Being in close, steamy quarters with your partner also presents the opportunity for some seriously sensual foreplay, so be sure to take your time and enjoy it.

Lather each other up and really take the time to enjoy each other’s body. Take advantage of the setting to experiment with different textures and sensations while you tease each other. Use soaps, oils, washcloths, and loofahs to stimulate each other’s senses. Just be creative and have fun with it.

3. Keep Both Feet On the Ground

While the sexy mood and the confined space of a shower might inspire you and your partner to try some more acrobatic positions, be careful.

The reality of slippery walls and floors means that you should probably stick to positions that aren’t going send you both on a highly embarrassing trip to the emergency room. Ideally, these are positions that will provide you with the most balance and involve you keeping both feet on the floor. Here are a few you can try.

4 Great Shower Sex Positions

1. Against the wall

In this position, one partner pushes the other up against the wall and enters them from behind. This provides plenty of balance for both partners as well as an added erotic experience for the person pressed up against the cool tile wall.

2. Bent over

This is similar to the last position, except this time the receiving partner is bent over at the waist. This allows for deeper penetration as well as providing an opportunity for the partner who is bent over to grab onto something for more stability.

3. Seated

If you don’t want to risk a slip-and-fall situation, staying seated might be the best way to go. One partner sits on the floor of the shower while the other partner mounts them. This position feels as sexy and intimate as it is stable.

4. Standing

This position doesn’t work for everyone because both partners have to be pretty well matched up height wise, however, if you and your partner can manage it, this is an extremely erotic position as well.

5. Use (the Right) Lube for Shower Sex

One of the absolute most critical components to having killer shower sex is using lube.

While half the fun of taking a shower together is getting all slippery, on it’s own, water is not a great lubricant. To make things worse, it tends to wash away whatever natural lubrication your body may produce, leaving you with a pretty uncomfortable situation.

There’s nothing worse than getting all worked up with you partner and then not be able to do the deed because you’re dealing with too much friction, so don’t forget to have a quality lube on standby.

Just keep in mind that not all lubes are created equal, and not every lube plays well with water.

Grabbing the wrong lube can be as bad as not having lube at all, so you’ll want to make sure that you get the right kind ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know:

Shower Lube Don’ts:

Water-based lube

While the natural feel of water-based lube makes it one of the most popular kinds of lube on the market, it isn’t ideal for having sex in water because it can be easily washed away. Keep this one in the bedroom.

Oil-based lube

Not only should oil-based lubes not be used in the shower, but they can degrade the integrity of condoms, making them porous or causing tears. They can also be messy and hard to clean.

Shower Lube Dos:

Silicone-based lube

Unlike water-based lubes, silicone-based lubes won’t wash away in water, making them ideal for some wet, slippery fun. Just be careful not to use silicone-based lube on any silicone toys you may have as it can cause damage to them.

Hybrid lube

If you’re looking for the best of water and silicone-based worlds, then a hybrid lube is for you. It combines the creamy, natural feeling of a water-based lube with the staying power of a silicone-based lube for a shower experience you and your partner won’t soon forget.


Make sure that you’re aware of spills. While silicone and hybrid lubes provide slippery fun when applied to your body, they’re not so fun on the slick surfaces of showers and tubs. Wipe up any spills so you don’t wipe out yourself!

Whether you choose a silicone-based or a hybrid lube, make sure that you have it close by before you hop in the shower.

When you’re ready to move past the foreplay, you’ll be glad to have the lube near at hand. We can even send you a free sample and a coupon for $1.00 off of a full-size bottle of ASTROGLIDE so you’ll be prepared.

So what do you think of our guide to shower sex?

Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to add? Tweet us @ASTROGLIDE and tell us what you think.

Images are for illustrative purposes only.

8 Scary Condom Mistakes You Could Be Making

Here’s a bummer stat: Rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have reached an all-time high in the U.S., according to the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (In 2015, more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia were reported, a 6 percent increase from 2014. Gonorrhea was at 395,000 cases, up 13 percent; and almost 24,000 cases of syphilis were reported, an increase of 19 percent.)

The only surefire way to prevent contracting an STI is complete abstinence, but let’s be honest, that’s not always realistic, so condoms are the next best thing. (Plus, you can actually have better sex with one of these five condoms.) The thing is, they aren’t 100 percent effective, especially if you’re not using them correctly. Protect yourself by avoiding one of these all-too-common mistakes.

You Didn’t Check the Condom

Image zoom

You don’t have to go all Inspector Gadget, but double check the expiration date and make sure the packaging is intact, says Laurie Bennett-Cook, a clinical sexologist in Los Angeles. There should be a small cushion of air if you press on the wrapper and a slip-slide feeling of lube. And this little inspection doesn’t have to be unsexy. “When it comes time to put the condom on, you can say, ‘Let me get that for you,’ and use that as your opportunity to check it out,” says Bennett-Cook. (A little awkward? Maybe, but this is just one conversation you must have for a healthy sex life.) Checking the condom is especially important if he’s supplying the gear. (You never know, the condom could have been stashed his wallet or the glove box of his car for a year.) And when a condom is old or stored improperly, the latex breaks down, increasing the risk of failure.

He Thinks Two Is Better Than One

Image zoom

“Some people think that they’re better off with two condoms just in case one breaks, but that’s not the case,” says Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. The reality: Double bagging creates more friction between the condoms, upping the chance that one (or both) will break.

He Puts It On at the Wrong Time

Image zoom

The best time for the condom to go on is after the penis is erect and before there’s any vaginal contact, says Streicher. Putting it on too late is an easy way to pick up anything he’s passing along. If he tries to put it on before he’s erect, he’ll probably have trouble getting it on, the condom may not sit properly on his penis, and it could even interfere with him getting a full erection.

You Didn’t Pinch the Tip

Image zoom

Most condoms are made with a reservoir tip designed to catch semen, but if you (or your partner) use one that doesn’t have that feature, make sure there’s enough space in the tip. “If there’s no space, there’s a greater chance that there’s going to be condom breakage when your guy ejaculates because there’s no room for the semen to go,” says Streicher. Leaving space doesn’t mean an air bubble. If there’s air left at the end of the condom, it also increases the likelihood of breaking, says Rena McDaniel, M.Ed., a clinical sexologist. Your move: “Pinch the top of the condom as you’re putting it on to avoid letting air in while keeping a bit of room at the top,” she says.

He’s Using the Wrong Size

Image zoom

Size matters when it comes to condoms. “If a guy wears a size that’s too small, first of all, he’ll have trouble getting it on, it’s going to be uncomfortable, and it’s more likely to break,” says Streicher. And if he uses one that’s too big? It could slip off pretty easily, adds Bennett-Cook. Though your partner may have convinced himself that he’s a Magnum-only type of guy, if he’s not, speak up. Simply tell him you’d prefer he use a different condom. Having a stash of your own, in a variety of brands and sizes, could be helpful. (BTW, check out these condoms with a cause.)

You Use the Wrong Kind of Lube (or Skip It Altogether)

Image zoom

Condoms can dry out, meaning they might be more likely to break. A squirt of lube can go a long way. “If you (or your partner) put a little bit of lube inside the condom before he puts it on, it adds a ton of sensation for him,” says McDaniel. Lube outside of the condom can help keep things slipping and sliding comfortably too. But don’t reach for any old thing. Water-based lubricants are best with latex condoms. Oil-based ones (like petroleum jelly, massage oils, body lotion, and that weird stuff your friend told you to try), can weaken the latex.

You Cuddle with Him (and the Condom) Post-Sex

Image zoom

When the deed is done, it’s normal to want to just lie there intertwined. But if he lingers inside you, the condom may slip off when he goes flaccid, which means all of his little guys will end up exactly where you didn’t want them. “The safest time to remove a condom is right after ejaculation when the penis is still hard,” says McDaniel. Gently change positions and don’t forget to hold onto the base of the condom during removal so it doesn’t slip off, she says.

You Have an On-Again, Off-Again Relationship with Condoms

Image zoom

One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make with their sexual health is only using condoms sometimes (or even most of the time). A condom can protect you only when you use it-which should be every.single.time. All it takes is one instance without to wind up with something that requires a course of antibiotics (or worse, something that you can’t get rid of). Make the slogan “no glove, no love” words you live by.

  • By By Tamekia Reece

How to Put on a Condom

By Sabine Walter, Pierre A. Lehu

Condoms, when used correctly, are the number-one method to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, if used incorrectly, a condom is no use as a birth control method or as protection against STDs. If you want to have a healthy sex life, you must know how to put on a condom the right way.

  1. Open the condom wrapper with your fingers.

    Don’t use your teeth or scissors because you might tear into the condom or put a hole in it.

  2. Remove the rolled condom from the wrapper and place it at the tip of the erect penis.

    Make sure the condom is facing the right way. The reservoir tip should face away from the penis and the rubber ring should be toward the penis.

  3. With one hand pinch and hold the reservoir tip while you use your other hand to unroll the condom completely down the shaft of the penis.

    This small space is essential because it provides room for the semen to collect when the man ejaculates. Otherwise, the condom may break. Many condom styles come with a “reservoir tip” for this purpose.

    Uncircumcised? Pull back the foreskin as you unroll the condom.

  4. Smooth out any air bubbles.

    Air bubbles might cause the condom to break.

If you rely on condoms to prevent pregnancy or STDs, you must use them every time you engage in sexual intercourse.

How to use condoms — 10 simple steps to getting it right

1. Resist the urge to buy extra large condoms — if a condom is too large, it will be too loose on the penis and is more likely to slide off. Be realistic and buy a size that fits securely on your erect penis.

2. Open the package carefully and don’t use sharp objects like scissors or your teeth to open the wrapper. Take care that the condom is not damaged with fingernails, jewellery etc.

3. Press out the air at the tip of the condom before putting it on — an air bubble in the condom could result in the condom tearing or falling off. Make sure the foreskin is pulled back before you put on the condom.

4. With the rolled rim on the outside, put the condom over the erect penis — don’t waste your time trying to put a condom on a flaccid penis. Be careful to put the condom on before there is contact with your partner’s vaginal area.

5. Unroll the condom down over the entire erect penis. If there is a reservoir tip, first squeeze out the air. If there is no tip, leave a half-inch space at the end for semen and squeeze the air out.

6. Smooth out any air bubbles and check that the condom fits securely.

7. After ejaculation, but before the penis is soft, hold the condom firmly at the rim and carefully withdraw from your partner. This is to ensure that semen is not leaked.

8. Don’t even think of re-using a condom. Equally, if you put a condom on backwards and it doesn’t unroll easily, don’t just flip it over. There may be semen in the condom, so use another.

9. Store condoms in a cool, dry place. Extreme temperatures and body heat weaken condoms, so don’t store them in your wallet, trouser pocket or glove compartment for more than a couple of weeks. Oil-based jellies and creams, such as Vaseline, will damage condoms. However, water-based lubricants such as KY Jelly are safe.

10. Condoms do not get better with age — throw them away if they’re past the expiry date or four years past the manufacturing date.

For further information on condoms, contraception and safer sex, check out our sexual health section.

Back to top of page

This does not mean that you should just say “ugh, screw it” and forget the condom altogether. Condoms are still our best defense against STIs. Just keep in mind that it’s also important to keep an eye out for any new symptoms and to stay on top of regular STI testing (since many infections can be totally symptomless).

3. Mistake: You reuse a condom.

Recently, the CDC tweeted a warning to people: Don’t wash or reuse condoms! It might seem obvious but apparently, this is a thing, and it is not a good idea, Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a gynecologist in Westchester, New York, and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells SELF. “This is not a good habit to get into,” she says.

“A used condom cannot be considered reliable when it comes to pregnancy and STD prevention,” she says. Condoms should only be used once, for each sex act (that means if you switch from vaginal sex to anal, you need a fresh condom). If cost or access is an issue, go to CondomFinder.org to learn where you can get free condoms in your area.

4. Mistake: You use a condom that’s too small or too big.

Penises come in all shapes and sizes, and so do condoms. “If you don’t have a properly fitting condom, you don’t have the contraceptive benefit of using it,” says Dr. Levine. Here’s why this matters: A too-tight condom might break more easily, and a too-big condom might come off too easily. When the whole point is to create a barrier strong enough to withstand ejaculate, fit is kind of an issue. So if your partner is using a condom that is clearly not the right size, say something. Yes, it can be an awkward conversation to have, but your safety matters more. Sex can already be weird, so a little more weirdness isn’t going to kill anyone. Hopefully you’re able to discuss this kind of stuff with anyone who gets access to your awesome body.

5. Mistake: You use a condom that’s been stored in a wallet.

Throw it out and grab a new one. It might seem like a convenient move (hey, you want to be prepared, right?) but this isn’t really the safest place for something that has this important of a job. “Someone constantly sitting on the condom and heating it up breaks down its protective benefit,” says Dr. Levine.

6. Mistake: You use an expired condom.

“The expiration date is there for a reason,” says Dr. Dweck. “Some condoms have spermicide or other ingredients that break down over time and don’t work as well. If a condom has expired, you can assume it won’t be as safe or effective as one that hasn’t.” So before you wrap it up, be sure to check the label.

7. Mistake: You put it on inside out.

You’ll know because the condom will resist unrolling down the penis as opposed to flawlessly unfurling itself. Don’t feel bad if you make this mistake! Even though it was easy to put a condom on a banana in sex-ed (or if you never got to try that brilliant exercise, you’ve probably seen how simple it looks in movies), that’s not necessarily true to life. “I have yet to find anyone who has a penis that looks like a banana,” says Dr. Levine. Same, same.

That’s why paying close attention to any signs of struggle is key, whether you’re putting the condom on a penis or a sex toy. “People try to force it down when this happens,” says Dr. Levine. But a condom resisting is a sign something’s wrong, which means you should remove it and get a new one (yes, really, you’ll want to toss the one you tried to put on inside out if it touched someone’s genitals).

8. Mistake: You play “just the tip” sans protection.

Ah, just the tip, the riskiest part of foreplay if you’re not wearing a condom. Here’s why this isn’t a great idea. For starters, it’s unlikely but theoretically possible to still get pregnant this way. While there may not be sperm in pre-cum, it’s technically possible for pre-cum to carry out some live sperm hanging out in the urethra. (You can read more about that here.) So if you’re using only condoms to avoid getting pregnant, every penis that enters your vagina should have a rubber on it. Period. And keep in mind that even if you’re using another method of contraception, condoms can only protect you from STIs when they’re on (this stands for oral sex too!). And yes, STIs can be transmitted from just the tip.

9. Mistake: You forget to pinch the tip of the condom.

That little reservoir tip at the top of the condom isn’t just for decoration, although it would be pretty cute if it were. “If you don’t pinch the tip, after the man ejaculates pressure can cause it to leak out the sides,” says Dr. Levine. Yep, sperm can leak out the base of the condom this way. Apparently Hannah’s freakout on Girls wasn’t totally unwarranted (because you know there’s no way Adam ever remembered to pinch the tip).

10. Mistake: You rely on two condoms for “extra” safety.

Less can actually be more when it comes to protection. Using one condom helps cover your safe-sex bases. The friction of two against each other just makes each one more likely to break, says Dr. Levine.

11. Mistake: You think natural condoms are the same as latex ones.

If latex isn’t your thing, there are condoms out there made of lambskin and various natural ingredients. Just be aware that they’re different from latex condoms in more than name. “They don’t offer the same protection against diseases,” says Dr. Levine. That’s because they tend to be more porous than latex kinds, so read up on the details before buying a pack.

12. Mistake: You don’t change condoms when necessary.

If you’re switching from anal sex to vaginal, it’s time for a condom change. “You don’t want to introduce bacteria from the rectum into the vagina,” says Dr. Levine. Another crucial time to get a new condom is when your partner already ejaculated, but you’re both down for round two. Even if he doesn’t get fully flaccid, there’s a chance any softening of his penis before you start again could leave room for semen to slip out. It’s also smart to change one after oral sex, in case your teeth grazed the condom without either of you noticing.

13. Mistake: You snuggle post-orgasm while your partner is still inside you.

Can sperm leak out the base of a condom? Yep, especially if your partner stays inside you too long. “As nice as it would be to have a cuddle session, realize that if you do so without withdrawing first, that condom is going to fall off the penis,” says Dr, Levine. “All that’s going to do is deposit all of those little boys exactly where you don’t want them.” BRB, screaming forever.

I wore the condom inside-out: What are our chances of pregnancy?

Dear Reader,

Hmmm, you present an interesting conundrum and a couple of different issues in your question. It might be helpful to start by saying that placing a condom on backwards is not uncommon. When this happens, people sometimes use the condom anyway, flipping it around without thinking about the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). At other times, people don’t have another condom around and would rather use that one than not use one at all.

In an effort to prevent this situation from happening again in the future, have you thought about stocking up on condoms? By having more than one, you’ve got the option to throw that inside-out condom away, reach into your stash, and open another one. Or, consider an additional form of contraception to use with your favorite condoms. For example, if your partner is using hormonal birth control (pills, patch, ring, etc) and you are using a condom too, then there should not be anything to worry about in terms of pregnancy.

While it’s possible that your girlfriend could become pregnant — since you put the condom on backwards, took the condom off, and rolled it on the other way — the chances are relatively low. If your pre-ejaculatory fluid contained sperm and was on the condom, that sperm may have gotten into her vagina. There would be an increased chance of pregnancy if your girlfriend was ovulating at the time.

Notice that the word “if” above is emphasized. Not all pre-ejaculatory fluid contains sperm. Pre-ejaculatory fluid is made by the prostate, not the testes, where sperm is actually produced. If you ejaculated a short while before having sex and hadn’t urinated, some sperm from the prior ejaculation could have been left behind in the urethra and mixed with the “new” pre-ejaculatory fluid. If you hadn’t ejaculated at least once shortly before you had sex, then the chance that your pre-cum contained sperm is unlikely.

Another part of your question noted is that you describe yourselves as “drunk” when you put the condom on backwards. Your situation is a vivid example of how alcohol impairs judgment (although plenty of people not under the influence could place a condom on backwards by mistake — after all, we’re human). Have you thought about how to reduce the chances of this error if having sex with your partner after drinking? Some people will only have sex while sober to reduce the chances of condom errors. Perhaps this is where a back-up method might be helpful?

It is not clear if your girlfriend knows that the condom was flipped around. If she doesn’t know, you might want to tell her what happened and let her know that you are worried and concerned about her and the chance of pregnancy. If it’s still within 72-120 hours, you can both consider emergency contraception to prevent a possible pregnancy. Keep in mind that the sooner a woman takes emergency contraception, the greater the effectiveness. You can also talk with her about the “what if” options. Your girlfriend will probably appreciate your concern. Most people react favorably to these types of situations when a partner demonstrates a deeper level of caring.

You mentioned that your girlfriend “does not deserve this.” It’s not a matter of whether or not your girlfriend (or you) deserves the worry about possible pregnancy. People who have intercourse may get pregnant or contract STIs. That’s why information and discussions about the “what ifs” are so important, before sex. Some people think these discussions are unromantic or kill the mood, and in brief encounters, they may. In a committed, long-term relationship, however, people often talk with their partners about their goals, values, priorities, hopes, and dreams. These discussions can also include the “what ifs” of pregnancy and STIs, as well as what sex means to you and your relationship. So the assumption is two people are choosing and consenting to the sex they are having, accepting the risks as well as the pleasure. You did not do anything bad to her, and anyone (and everyone) can make a mistake.

Regardless of the steps you take, kudos to you for caring, seeking the right information, and planning for the future.


11 Things NOT To Do With A Condom – Before, During & After Sex!

Using a condom is one of the most convenient forms of protection that couples can opt for. But before you make it your go-to choice, there are a few things you should know. Here are 11 common condom mistakes you can avoid making…before, during and after sex!


1. Not checking the expiry date

Yes, condoms come with an expiration date. Using an old condom can completely defeat the purpose of using one in the first place. The gel or the lubricant becomes less effective and the older the product, the more likely it is to break.

2. Storing it in the wrong place

Don’t store your condom anywhere where it’s too hot or too cold. It should be kept in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.

3. Using it if it is damaged

You can figure out that a condom is damaged if it smells funny. Abstain from using one if you suspect it smells slightly odd. Also, a lot of people tend to open a condom packet using their teeth – this is a mistake as it can cause it to tear up by mistake.

4. Not using the right size

Pick the right size because the one-size-fits-all rule doesn’t apply here! The condom shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.


5. Not wearing it from the beginning

A lot of guys, in fact most, use a condom after penetration or in the middle of the act. You should ideally wear a condom before you begin to have sex. Even a tiny amount of semen or pre-cum has the potential to get you pregnant.

6. Not leaving some space to breathe

You must not put on a condom all the way till the top, as it makes it uncomfortable and hard to take off. Two reasons that might cause an unwanted spill.

7. Not using proper lube

Steer clear of oil-based lubricants as they can cause the condom to slip away. Instead, opt for water or gel-based lubes when you’re using a condom.


8. Flushing it in the toilet

Disposing a condom the right way is extremely important. And the thumb rule is – not to discard it in the toilet, as it can choke your drain. Knot it along the length, cover it in a paper bag and dispose it with the rest of your household trash.

9. Reusing the same condom

This increases the risk of the condom breaking and slipping off because of the friction that it has already been through. Also, it is extremely unhygienic!

10. Not checking if it is broken

After you’ve had sex and before you dispose off the condom, you should always check it for any leakage.This can be done by filling it with water, just to be absolutely sure!

11. Not removing it properly

Remove it slowly, sliding it down and pulling it out. Ideally, you should not be too close to your partner or in a position where the condom can spill over.Images: Giphy, Tumblr,

Top 10 Most Dangerous Condom Mistakes

It’s not enough to just use condoms. You have to use them correctly! But as many as three out of four people don’t.

That’s because a lot of us have a love-hate relationship with condoms. The most common complaints? You guessed ’em: They reduce sensation, they’re difficult to put on and, ewww, that smell. But they sure are handy to have around when you’re suddenly turned on. And, unquestionably, condoms can go a long way toward preventing both pregnancy and a huge share of the 19 million annual cases of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), from AIDS to herpes, with a lot of very unpleasant stops in between.

So please make sure you’re not making any of the top 10 most dangerous condom mistakes:

  1. Not checking for visible damage. Nearly 75 percent of people never bother looking for tears or holes—even if they use their teeth to open the packet (don’t!) or snag the condom on their jewelry or fingernails, according to a Kinsey Institute report.
  2. Not checking the expiration date. Yes, that little date printed on the wrapper is news to 61 percent of users. Not you, of course! Just don’t confuse the expiration date (EXP) with the manufacture date (MFG). Condoms last a lot longer than even Twinkies—up to 5 years for plain ones, though only 2 years or so for those with a spermicide, which gradually breaks down the latex. But condoms kept in men’s wallets get toasty from body heat, which can considerably shorten a condom’s life expectancy (and maybe yours). If a condom is sticky or brittle, toss it.
  3. Not discussing condom use beforehand. Yes, 60 percent of people say it doesn’t work out well when a partner springs condoms on them at the last minute. The more both partners discuss (and even practice) using condoms, the better things will go when the big moment comes. (Find out more about staying in top sexual condition for your partner.)
  4. Putting it on late in the action. About 43 percent of students in a sex-behavior study donned the condom after penetration had already occurred. Presumably they didn’t know that some sperm can be released before the final fireworks, posing pregnancy and STD risks.
  5. Not leaving room at the top. It’s apparently news to four out of 10 condom users that before putting it on, you need to gently squeeze the tip of the condom to remove any trapped air and leave space for the sperm. Otherwise, the condom’s more likely to break.
  6. Putting it on wrong. Don’t you hate when that happens? About 30 percent of people put it on inside out and don’t realize that an inside-out condom is more likely to slip off (go peek at number 8 on this list). The safest thing to do? Start with a new one. The right way: The condom should look a little like a ski cap with the bottom edges rolled up (not under). The cap should fit over the penis so that the brim unrolls easily down the shaft. Any other way and it’s a dunce cap.
  7. Breaking the condom. About 29 percent of users report breakage. A large chunk of that is user error, not product defects, say researchers. In addition to the mistakes in numbers 1, 2, 5 and 6, add this: using oil-based lubricants (like petroleum jelly, face and body creams and baby oil or mineral oil). These can make the latex pop. Instead, use kinder, gentler water-based or silicone lubricants (think glycerin or K-Y Jelly).
  8. Slipping off during sex. The 13 percent who report slippage have many reasons, including, “It just didn’t fit right.” To find a good fit, buy a variety of styles and sizes (there really aren’t that many choices) and try them at leisure. Remember, natural lambskin sounds nice and can prevent pregnancy, but it doesn’t protect against the viruses that cause AIDS, hepatitis and herpes. Only latex can do that.
  9. Taking the condom off too soon. Duh, not a good idea. For the 15 percent of men who report doing this, losing an erection is a big reason. But erections can come and go during sex; besides, ejaculation can occur without an erection, bringing with it all the risks of pregnancy and STDs. (Here’s what you need to know about healthy male sexual functioning.)
  10. The biggest mistake of all: NOT using a condom. Don’t let all these potential problems (or that ewww-y smell) turn you off to condoms or simply make you say, “Why bother?” Take a breath, get it right and save your (sex) life.

See how safe sex can help you destress.

stock photography, health, medicine, condom, STD, contraception

By Stephanie Pappas

LiveScience senior writer

Condoms can’t prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease if they’re used incorrectly. Unfortunately, a new review of research finds that condom use errors are all too common.

Some of the most frequent mistakes include putting a condom on partway through intercourse or taking it off before intercourse is over, failing to leave space at the tip of the condom for semen, and failing to look for damage before use. These errors can contribute to breakage or leakage, researchers reported in the journal Sexual Health.

“We chronically underestimate how complicated condom use can be,” University of Kentucky professor Richard Crosby, who co-authored the study, said in a statement. “It involves the use of a condom, while negotiating the condom use and sex with a partner all at the same time.”

With perfect use, condoms preventpregnancy with 98 percent success, according to the World Health Organization. Typically, however, the rate of unintended pregnancy with condoms is around 15 percent.

Led by Stephanie Sanders of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University, the researchers pulled together 16 years of research on condom errors and failures going back to 1995. They found 50 studies from 14 countries, though western nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom predominated. The studies involved diverse groups of participants, from married individuals to sex workers to college students; as such, there were a range of condom use-error rates.

An analysis of all 50 studies found a laundry list of reported errors in condom use. For example, between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of people queried in the studies said they’d put on a condom partway through intercourse — negating any disease-controlling benefits, since fluids are exchanged throughout intercourse not just during ejaculation. Other studies found that between 1.5 percent and 24.8 percent of sexual experiences involved putting a condom on too late in the process of intercourse.

The research also turned up multiple mistakes in how people put condoms on. Up to 25.3 percent said they unrolled the condom’s sheath before putting on the condom, rather than unrolling the condom on the penis. Between a quarter and almost half of respondents said they’d failed to leave room at the tip of the condom for semen to collect. About 75 percent of men and 82 percent of women failed to check condoms for damage before using them.

Between 0.8 percent and 40.7 percent of participants had experienced a condom break, and between 13.1 percent and 19.3 percent had one leak, depending on the study. Improper condom use, including the wrong kind of lubricant or storage, can contribute to these problems. For instance, oil-based lubricants will degrade latexcondoms.

While perfect condom use has a 98 percent success rate at preventingpregnancy, errors can increase the risk of breakage, slippage or other condom failure. Here are the rates for those problems:

Breakage: In various studies, between 0.8 percent and 40.7 percent of participants reported the experience of a broken condom. In some studies, the rates of sex with a broken condom were as high as 32.8 percent.

Slippage: Between 13.1 percent and 19.3 percent of participants reported condom slippage.

Leakage: Condoms leaked in between 0.4 percent and 6.5 percent of sexual encounters studied, with 7.6 percent of men and 12.5 percent of women reporting an experience with a leaky condom.

“Closing the gap between perfect use and the errors characterizing typical use is one of the most crucial challenges of future condom promotion programs,” the researchers wrote.

From the study, here are the top condom errors:

1. Late application: Between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of people reported putting a condom on after intercourse has already begun. Other studies found that late application happens in 1.5 percent to 24.8 percent of sexual encounters.

2. Early removal: Between 13.6 percent and 44.7 percent of individuals in the studies had taken a condom off before intercourse was over. Other studies found that early removal happens in between 1.4 percent and 26.9 percent of sexual encounters.

3. Unrolling a condom before putting it on: Between 2.1 percent and 25.3 percent of people reported completely unrolling a condom before putting it on.

4. No space at the tip: Failing to leave a reservoir for semen was reported by between 24.3 percent and 45.7 percent of respondents, depending on the study.

5. Failing to remove air: Almost half (48.1 percent) of women and 41.6 percent of men reported sexual encounters in which air wasn’t squeezed from the tip of the condom.

6. Inside-out condoms: Between 4 percent and 30.4 percent of people reported rolling on a condom inside out and then flipping it the other way around, potentially exposing their partner to bodily fluids.

7. Failing to unroll all the way: 11.2 percent of women and 8.8 percent of men had started intercourse before a condom was unrolled all the way.

8. Exposure to sharp objects: Between 2.1 percent and 11.2 percent of people had opened condom packets with sharp objects or otherwise exposed the latex to tearing.

9. Not checking for damage: Meanwhile, 82.7 percent of women and 74.5 percent of men failed to check condoms for damage before use.

10. No lubrication: Between 16 percent and 25.8 percent of participants had used condoms without lubrication, increasing the risk of a break.

11. Wrong lubrication: In about 4.1 percent of sexual events, people used oil-based lubrications with latex, which can degrade the condom. About 3.2 percent of women and 4.7 percent of men reported this error.

12. Incorrect withdrawal: Failing to promptly and properly withdraw after ejaculation was a common mistake, occurring in up to 57 percent of encounters in one study. About 31 percent of men and 27 percent of women reported this error.

13. Condom reuse: Between 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent of study respondents had re-used a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter.

14. Incorrect storage: Between 3.3 percent and 19.1 percent of people in the studies had stored condoms in conditions outside of the recommendations on the package.

  • 10 Surprising Sex Statistics
  • 7 Surprising Facts about The Pill
  • 6 (Other) Great Things Sex Can Do For You

If you want your condom to work, you’ve got to use it correctly. Luckily, it’s really easy. Here’s what you need to know.

How do I use a condom?

Roll the condom on when your penis is erect (hard), but BEFORE it touches your partner’s mouth or genital area (vulva, vagina, anus, buttocks, and upper thighs) — and wear it the whole time you’re having sex. This helps protect you from STDs that are transmitted through skin-to-skin touching. It also prevents contact with pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), which can have STD germs and may rarely contain sperm that can cause pregnancy.

1. Condoms last a long time, but you should always check the expiration date printed on the wrapper or box. Open condoms carefully so you don’t damage them — don’t use your teeth or scissors.

2. Make sure the condom’s ready to roll on the right way: the rim should be on the outside so it looks like a little hat, and it will unroll easily. You can unroll it a little bit before putting it on to make sure it’s right-side out. If you accidentally put a condom on inside out, do NOT flip it around and reuse it — get a new one.

3. Pinch the tip of the condom and place it on the head of your penis. Leave a little bit of space at the top to collect semen (cum). If you’re uncircumcised, it might be more comfortable to pull your foreskin back before placing the condom on the tip of your penis and rolling it down.

4. Unroll the condom down the shaft of your penis all the way to the base.

You can put a few drops of water-based or silicone lubricant inside the tip of the condom before you roll it on. You can also add more lube to the outside of the condom after it’s on your penis. (Water-based or silicone lube can make sex feel even better, and it helps stop condoms from breaking.)

5. Have sex!

6. After you ejaculate (cum), hold onto the rim of the condom and pull your penis out of your partner’s body. Do this BEFORE your penis goes soft, so the condom doesn’t get too loose and let semen out.

7. Carefully take off the condom away from your partner so you don’t accidentally spill semen (cum) on them. Throw the condom away in the garbage — don’t flush it down the toilet (it can clog pipes).

You can’t reuse condoms. Roll on a new condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You should also use a new condom if you switch from one kind of sex to another (like anal to vaginal).

Don’t worry if you lose your erection (your penis gets soft) while wearing a condom — this is super common. If this happens you should change condoms. Just take the condom off, and once your penis is hard again, roll on a new one.

What are some tips for using condoms?

Taking good care of your condoms and using them correctly every single time you have sex is key.

Store your condoms in a cool, dry place away from any sharp objects and direct sunlight. Don’t keep them in your pocket, car, or bathroom for long periods of time (over 1 month), because excessive heat and moisture can damage condoms over time.

Always check the expiration date and make sure there aren’t holes in the packaging before opening your condom — you should be able to feel a little air bubble when you squeeze the wrapper. If a condom is torn, dry, stiff, or sticky, throw it away.

Since you have to use a new condom every time you have sex or get a new erection, it’s a good idea to keep a supply around. Have condoms nearby before things start heating up, so they’re easy to grab without interrupting the action.

Most condoms come pre-lubricated, but adding extra water-based or silicone lube can make condoms feel great and help keep them from breaking. Put a few drops on the head of your penis or inside the tip of your condom before you roll it on, and/or spread lube on the outside of the condom once you’re wearing it.

Don’t use anything that has oil in it with latex condoms, like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), lotion, baby oil, butter, or cooking oils. Oil damages latex condoms and may cause them to break.

It’s easy to make condoms fun and sexy — all it takes is a little creativity and a positive attitude! For many people, condoms are a natural part of foreplay. Having your partner roll on the condom, applying lube, and stimulating each other and saying sexy stuff while putting condoms on keeps things hot AND safe. Plus, knowing you’re protecting each other from pregnancy and/or STDs lets everyone relax and focus on feelin’ good.

Practice makes perfect, so it’s a good idea to get used to putting on condoms before you actually use one for sex. You can practice putting a condom on your own penis, or a banana, cucumber, or slim bottle — anything penis-shaped will do! Becoming a condom pro BEFORE you have sex makes it much easier to use them correctly when it really matters.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to use another form of birth control, like the pill, ring, shot, implant, or IUD, along with condoms. It can help prevent pregnancy in case you make a mistake or the condom breaks, giving you extra protection. If you have a condom mishap and you’re not on another birth control method, emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) can help prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Was this page helpful?

  • Yes
  • No

Help us improve – how could this information be more helpful?

How did this information help you?

You’re the best! Thanks for your feedback. Thanks for your feedback.

Condoms – how to use a male condom


  • A condom is a thin piece of rubbery material that fits over a man’s penis during sex, forming a barrier to protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and unplanned pregnancy.
  • A condom will protect you and your partner during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Put on a new condom if moving from one type of sex to another to avoid cross infection.
  • Putting a condom on before any contact between the penis and a partner’s genital area or mouth minimises risks to both of you.
  • Using two condoms at the same time can cause them to break – one is enough!
  • Using water-based lubricants makes condoms more comfortable and sex more enjoyable – but avoid oil-based lubricants with latex condoms as they can weaken or break them.
  • It’s very rare for a condom to break – but if it does, don’t panic, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of STIs and pregnancy.

Using condoms consistently and correctly will help protect you from the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, so you can have more enjoyable sex. They will also protect you from unplanned pregnancy during vaginal sex. Here you can find out how to use a male condom correctly and what to do if something goes wrong. You might also want to take a look at our female condom page for more information on how to use those.

What is a condom?

A condom is a thin piece of rubbery material that fits over a man’s penis during sex. When used correctly, condoms prevent HIV, as well as pregnancy and most STIs.
The most popular and common type of condom is made from a thin latex (rubber).

How do condoms work?

Sexual fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids and blood can pass on HIV and STIs. A condom forms a barrier between these fluids and entry points into the body, such as a person’s:

  • vagina
  • anus
  • penis (urethra)
  • mouth (especially if there are large open sores or bleeding gums)

Although a few STIs can also be passed on through skin-to-skin contact (for example genital warts), condoms still cut the risk of many of these infections.

When should I use a condom?

You can use a condom to protect yourself and your partner from HIV and STIs:

  • during vaginal, anal and oral sex
  • every time you have sex
  • when sharing sex toys (put a new condom on for each partner)

Putting a condom on before any contact between the penis and a partner’s genital area or mouth minimises risks to both of you.

How to put on a condom

You’ll find instructions on the condom packet, but here are a few simple steps:

  1. Check the date on the condom hasn’t passed. An out of date condom is more likely to break.
  2. Check the packet is in good condition and has a certification mark (FDA, CE, ISO or Kitemark). This means it’s been tested and complies with safety standards.
  3. Open the packet carefully so you don’t rip or damage the condom. There’s usually an arrow on the packet to guide you in the direction you should open it. Avoid using your teeth or scissors and be careful with sharp fingernails or jewellery.
  4. The penis needs to be erect before the condom is put on. Always put the condom on before the penis touches a woman or man’s genitals or mouth.
  5. Condoms come rolled up. Place one on top of the erect penis and pinch the teat at the end of the condom before you start to roll it down the penis. By doing this you’ll squeeze out any air bubbles and ensure there is room for the semen (cum).
  6. Roll the condom down to the base of the penis. If it’s on correctly it will roll downwards easily. If you’ve started putting it on the wrong way or you’re not sure then take it off and try again. Even if the man hasn’t ejaculated (cum) there can still be semen on his penis (pre-cum), so it’s important to try again with a new condom.

How to remove a condom

  1. Only take the condom off when the penis has been withdrawn completely but while the penis is still erect. Most men lose their erection very soon after they cum so don’t wait around too long to pull out the penis from the vagina or anus, as this risks semen spilling out, or the condom slipping off.
  2. Always use a new condom if you have sex again, or if you’re going from anal to vaginal or oral sex. This is important because several different infections can be passed on from the anus to the vagina or mouth.

Top tips for using a condom

Make it part of the fun

Make putting on a condom a fun part of foreplay – keep touching and kissing as you put it on – you can also get your partner to put it on for you.

Don’t double up

Using two condoms at once, or a female and a male condom at the same time, doesn’t give you double protection – in fact it can cause friction and makes it more likely to split or slip off. One is enough!

Practice makes perfect

It’s a great idea to practice putting on a condom a few times before you’re actually in a situation where you’re about to have sex. This can help you to feel more at ease when the time comes and get you used to the feel of the condom.

Love your lube

We love lubricant because:

  • it makes using condoms feel more comfortable and increases pleasure during sex
  • it reduces the risk of the condom breaking, especially during anal sex

Try putting lubricant on the outside of the condom or inside and around the vagina or anus. But don’t put it on the inside of the condom or on your bare penis, as this will make the condom slip off. And remember to only use a water-based lubricant designed for sex. Oil-based lubricants (such as vaseline, massage oils or hand cream) may weaken or break latex condoms.

Size matters

Condom sizes vary. You can try out different sizes of condoms to find the one that’s best for you or your partner. A well-fitting condom should roll all the way down to the base of the penis and feel comfortable rather than really tight. On the other hand it shouldn’t feel too roomy and in danger of slipping off during sex. Keep in mind that, just like when you buy clothes, you might need a different size in different brands of condoms.
But don’t worry, condoms are super stretchy, so you’ll find one to fit – it’s a myth that a penis can be too big for condoms. However, if you can’t find a male condom which feels comfortable during sex then you could try a female condom for either vaginal or anal sex.

Try different textures and flavours

The good news is that there are a huge variety of condoms available. You have a choice of textures (ribs or bumps can increase sensation for both partners), thickness, flavours (which can make oral sex more fun) and colours – so try different options and find out which ones turn you and your partner on.

If you’re sensitive to latex you can also use latex-free condoms made of polyurethane or polyisoprene instead. Female condoms are also latex-free, so you could try those instead.

What should I do if a condom breaks?

It’s very rare for a condom to break if it has been put on and used correctly. But if a condom does split, break or slip off there are a few simple things you can do:

  • withdraw the penis immediately
  • remove as much semen (cum) as you can
  • avoid washing inside your vagina or anus (douching) as this can spread infection further or cause irritation
  • access emergency contraception if you’re not using any other contraceptive.

Most sexual health professionals will advise you to have a sexual health test around 10 days after unprotected sex or if a condom breaks (or earlier if you’re worried about any symptoms) and then again around three months later. This is because different STIs will become detectable at different times after infection.

What should I do if a condom breaks and my partner is HIV-positive?

Your HIV positive partner will be able to tell you if they are on regular treatment and have been virally suppressed for at least the last six months. If this is the case, the risk of HIV transmission if a condom breaks is extremely unlikely. You may however both still decide to get tested for other STIs.

If a condom breaks and your HIV positive partner is not on regular treatment or is unsure of how well they are doing, you’ll need to visit a sexual health professional as soon as you can. You may be offered post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment. This is a month-long treatment of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that reduce your chances of becoming HIV-positive.

PEP has a high success rate; however, it’s not a replacement for condoms. PEP is a powerful drug that has side effects and it’s not an option available to everyone.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is living with HIV, using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could be another option to protect you from the risk of HIV transmission. However it won’t protect you from other STIs and unplanned pregnancy.

How can I talk about condoms with my partner?

Some people feel embarrassed bringing up the subject of using condoms, especially in the early stages of a relationship. But protecting yourself and your partner should be a priority for both of you. If your partner refuses to use a condom don’t feel pressured into having unprotected sex – remember you always have the right to decide whether you want to have sex or not.

Talking about condoms with your partner isn’t about you saying that you don’t trust them – it’s as much for them as it is for you. Knowing you are safe should help you both feel more at ease and mean you can get on with just enjoying sex.


Avert.org is helping to prevent the spread of HIV and improve sexual health by giving people trusted, up-to date information.

We provide all this for FREE, but it takes time and money to keep Avert.org going.

Can you support us and protect our future?

Every contribution helps, no matter how small.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply any health status or behaviour on the part of the people in the photo.

What are condoms and how are they used?

Using a condom has some disadvantages compared with other types of protection, especially if they are not used correctly.

In a year, 18 in every 100couples who use a male condom will become pregnant, and 21 in every 100 couples who use a female condom. This is partly due to human error, such as forgetting to use one.

Apart from having a higher failure rate, the female condom is also less widely available.

Errors that can cause a condom to fail include:

  • Using the wrong size
  • Accidentally tearing the material when opening the package, or during application or use
  • Applying the wrong kind of lubricant

Oil-based lubricants, some creams, baby oil, and petroleum jelly cannot be used with a condom. Only water-based lubricants should be used.

Share on PinterestMaking condom use part of sexual activity can reduce feelings of embarrassment.

Similarly, some creams, suppositories, or pessaries used for treating thrush can reduce the contraceptive qualities of a condom.

Condoms should be kept away from direct light and heat as this may increase the chance of them breaking.

Some people feel embarrassed about using a condom, but they are a safety device that offers important protection.

Advice from the American Family Children’s Hospital includes the following tip: “Make it clear that you won’t have sex without a condom.”

One problem is that stopping to apply a condom breaks the sequence of events during foreplay and sexual activity. This can be resolved by incorporating the placing of the condom as part of the foreplay.

Some men with erectile dysfunction may find this worsens their symptoms if they have to interrupt the sexual act to put the condom on. The interruption may make it difficult to sustain the erection. One study has found that loss of erection due to condom use may lead to risky sexual behavior.

A condom is only 95 percent to 98 percent reliable even if used correctly, so users are advised to combine two methods of contraception, for example, condom use with a spermicide, to prevent pregnancy and guard against disease.

Latex allergy

Lambskin condoms have existed for a long time, possibly since the Roman Empire. Some people prefer them because the material is better at transmitting body warmth and tactile sensation, and they are less allergenic. However, they are expensive, and while they can prevent pregnancy, they do not protect against disease.

Other materials that replace latex in condoms include polyurethane, polyisoprene, and nitrile.

Modern materials are better at preventing the transmission of an STI.

Condoms are available without prescription from drugstores and other outlets. They cost between $0.50 and $1.00 each, and buying several in a box is cheaper. Many health centers offer them free of charge.

Tip of a condom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *