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Using condoms effectively are an important part of looking after your sexual health if you are sexually active. Condoms are the only method of contraception that can help protect against both pregnancy and STIs.

Key points relating to condoms include:

  • If used correctly, provide contraception and protection against pregnancy.
  • Condoms help protect you from STIs during oral, vaginal and anal sex.
  • You should always use a condom when having sex with casual and new partners.
  • Make sure condoms have the European CE standard mark, which mean they meet high safety standards.
  • Always use a new condom and check the use by date.
  • Use plenty of condom friendly lubrication for anal sex.
  • A dam (a square of very soft thin plastic) placed across the anus or female genitals can be used to protect against infection through oral sex.

You can get free condoms from a number of places, including: genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and sexual healthcare services.

How to use a condom

Condoms are important. When used properly, they can help to protect against sexually transmitted infections, HIV and against unplanned pregnancy.

You should always use condoms that have been quality-tested to UK standards.

  • Always use a new condom, check the use by date, and make sure it is not damaged.
  • Take the condom out of the pack carefully. Do not use your teeth and watch out for rings and sharp fingernails that can tear the condom.
  • Wait until the penis gets hard before putting on the condom. This should be done before intercourse or genital contact.
  • Unroll the condom a bit to check that it’s the right way round before putting it near the erect penis.
  • You should squeeze the tip of the condom to get rid of any air.
  • Place the condom over the tip of the hard penis and roll it all the way down to the base of the penis.
  • If you’re using a water-based lubricant, spread it over the outside of the condom when it is on the penis.
  • You should always check during sex that the condom hasn’t slipped off.
  • After sex, withdraw carefully while the penis is still hard. Hold the condom at the base when you pull out, to stop it slipping off.
  • Remove carefully and keep the semen in condom.
  • Wrap the condom in a tissue and dispose of it carefully in a bin, not down the toilet.

Always use a new condom if you have sex again.

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