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Consistent & Correct External Condom Use


With perfect use every time, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, with typical use they are only 85% effective.  Condoms also greatly lower the risk that a person will pass on an STD to another person.  The exact risk varies by the type of disease. Abstinence from oral, vaginal, and anal sex is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Follow these steps consistently and correctly to reduce your risk.


Before using a condom, make sure to check the package for:

  • Rips/tears/holes – if it’s damaged, don’t use it!

  • Expiration date – all condoms have an expiration date because the material they’re made of will eventually break down. If it’s expired, don’t use it!

  • Kind - What’s it made out of? If you or your partner have a latex allergy, use a non-latex condom. Never use a lambskin condom- does not protect against STDs.


Use a condom the right way, every time:

1) Open condom carefully: Do not open the condom using your teeth, scissors, a knife or any other object that may puncture the condom.  Most condoms are equipped with a notch that is easy to tear open with your fingers.


2) Make sure the condom is right side up: Make sure the rolled up ring is on the outside and facing up.  If you start to put the condom on backwards, throw it away and get a new one. Do NOT turn it around and use it because it will be contaminated.


3) Add water-based or silicon-based lubricant: Most condoms are pre-lubricated. However, adding extra water-based or silicone-based lubricant can help reduce friction.  A few drops can be added inside the tip of the condom, and/or spread on the outside of the condom once it is on. NEVER use lotion, Vaseline, or oil-based lubricants because they break down latex causing the condom to break. Before using any lubricant, make sure the label indicates it is safe for latex.


4) Pinch the tip: Condoms have a tip called a reservoir to collect semen. It is important to pinch the tip of the condom when putting it on to leave room for the semen to collect.


5) Roll the condom all the way down: While pinching the tip, unroll the condom down the shaft of the penis all the way to the base.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 6). How to use a male condom. Retrieved from


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). It's your future. You can protect it. Retrieved from


Concordia University. (n.d.). 10 steps to using a condom properly. Retrieved from


Planned Parenthood. (2018, February 7). 10 steps to condom use. Retrieved from

Teen Talk. (n.d.). Condoms and sex dams. Retrieved December 17, 2019, from

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