How to use a condom

Always use condoms with a CE mark or a BSI kitemark on the pack. Don't use the condom after the use-by-date. Remove any rings or rough edges of fingernails, which might split the rubber.



Condoms are the only type of contraception that can prevent both pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are a barrier method of contraception and are designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg. They can protect against STIs if used correctly during vaginal, anal and oral sex.

When used correctly, male condoms are 98% effective. Putting on a condom can be an enjoyable part of sex and doesn’t have to feel like an interruption.

Remember – you do not need to have sex with someone who refuses to use contraception. Discuss contraception and condom use with your partner. Condoms can be an enjoyable part of sex and can protect both partners from STI’s including chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV.

Condoms come lubricated to make them easier to use, but you can use additional water-based lubricant if necessary. This is recommended, in particular, for anal sex to reduce the chance of the condom breaking.



Watch this short clip which illustrates how to use a condom properly.

Below are the steps that will guide you on correct condom use:

  • Always choose condoms that have the CE mark – a recognized safety standard
  • Make sure the condom is the right size. Too big and it might slip off and a size too small may cause the condom to break
  • Check the expiry date – don’t use it if the date has expired
  • Always use a new condom every time you have sex
  • Carefully take the condom out of the packet (don’t use your teeth to open the packet!)– make sure it doesn’t get damaged with sharp fingernails or jewellery
  • The condom should be put on as soon the penis erect and before there is any contact with the mouth, vagina or anus
  • Use water based lubricant for safer anal sex – don’t use any oil based lubricants e.g. Vaseline as this destroys the latex and makes condom ineffective
  • Make sure the condom is the right way round – if you accidently start unrolling the condom inside out, throw it away and use a new one. Never unroll a condom completely before putting it on – it is almost impossible to put on a condom properly once it has been completely unrolled
  • Gently squeeze the top of the condom to get rid of any trapped air
  • Unroll the condom over the penis
  • After sex, hold the rim of the condom and withdraw (the penis should be withdrawn before the erection is completely lost)
  • Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the bin


Some people may be allergic to latex, but you can get condoms that are latex-free that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.


What damages a Condom

Condoms, if used properly are 98% effective, there are some things to consider that might make them less effective or damage them.

  • Condoms should be stored in places that are not too warm, not too cold and should be stored away from rough or sharp areas that could tear them or damage them in any way.
  • Oil based products such as moisturiser, lotion and Vaseline can damage condoms
  • Condoms have an expiry date on the packaging. Don’t use an out of date condom.
  • Always use condoms that carry the CE mark – a recognized standard of safety


If you have sex without a condom, or the condom breaks or comes off, you should visit either your local pharmacy or GP and ask about emergency contraception. The quicker you do this the better. You should note that any conversations you have with the pharmacy or GP are confidential.

You can get free condoms from a number of Pharmacies across Ayrshire with a