How to Properly Use a Condom
By Amy S. D. Lee,
A recent study looked at literature to identify the most common mistakes made by condom users. Condoms are 97 percent effective when used perfectly—but they are typically only 85 percent effective. That means that 15 times out of 100 they fail to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted diseases. And 12 of those times are directly attributable to user error. That’s a pretty high error rate for something that seems so straightforward on the package. So let’s review how to properly use a condom.
The steps of proper condom use:
•The condom must be applied to the erect penis before intercourse begins
•The condom should be placed on the tip of the penis with the rolled side out
•The condom should be unrolled up the penile shaft completely to the base of the penis
•The tip of the condom should be left with enough room at the end to accommodate semen (approximately ½ inch)
•Air should be squeezed out of the tip of the condom as it is applied
•Only water soluble lubricants should be used with the condom
•The condom should not be used without proper lubrication
•The condom should not be removed prior to the completion of intercourse
•After ejaculation, the still erect penis should be removed while holding the base of the condom
•The condom can then be removed and disposed of with care not to spill the contents
•Use a new condom for every act of intercourse
•Dispose of the used condom in a place that others will not handle it
What if you suspect a condom failure?
If you suspect a condom has broken, stop at once and do not proceed until you have replaced the old condom with a new one. If you realize that the condom has been used improperly or failed in any way, you must consider the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Emergency contraception (Plan B) can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies for anyone 17 or older (under 17 can get it with a prescription). You must ask for it from the pharmacist and it should be taken as soon as possible to prevent pregnancy. You should follow up with your health care provider for disease testing and treatment as indicated.
If you still have questions about proper condom use, talk to your health care provider. Improper use is really quite common. Know the facts and beat the odds!