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Male condoms are made from very thin latex (rubber), polyisoprene or polyurethane, and are designed to stop a man’s semen from coming into contact with his sexual partner. When condoms are used correctly during vaginal sex, they help to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When used correctly during anal and oral sex, they help to protect against STIs. The male and female condoms are the only contraception that protect against pregnancy and STIs.
How to Use a Male Condom
If used correctly, condoms can be a very effective way of preventing unintended pregnancy and can protect against most STIs. Using condoms can take some getting used to but the added knowledge that you are protecting yourself and your partner can take away some of the worries that you may have about having sex and make sex more relaxed and more enjoyable.
If you are not confident about using condoms, practice when you’re alone. This will help you get used to putting on a condom and coming (ejaculating) while wearing one.
To use a male condom correctly, follow these steps:
- The condom should be put on when the penis is erect (hard) and before it comes into contact with your partner’s body
- Carefully open the foil packaging that the condom is wrapped in, taking care not to tear the condom
- Hold the tip of the condom between your forefingers and thumb to make sure it is put on the right way round and that no air is trapped inside (the condom may split if air is trapped inside)
- Place the condom over the tip of the penis
- Whilst squeezing the tip of the condom, roll it down over the length of the erect penis
- If the condom will not unroll, it is probably on inside out – start again with a new condom as there may be sperm on it
- Make sure that the condom stays in place while you are having sex. If it comes off, stop and put on a new one
- After ejaculation (when the man has come) and while the penis is still hard, hold the condom in place and carefully withdraw the penis from the partner’s body
- Condoms don’t last forever. Change the condom after around 30 minutes of sex because friction can weaken the condom, which makes it more likely to break or fail
- Wrap the used condom in a tissue and put it in the bin. You should never flush condoms down the toilet because they may block the toilet and can cause environmental damage
Check out this useful video from the NHS Youtube Contraception series on how to put a condom on
You can also find a video with more information how who to choose the right size male condom for you below
Condoms and Oral Sex
Oral sex involves sucking or licking the vagina, penis or anus.
There’s a risk of getting or passing on some STIs if you’re giving or receiving oral sex including chlamydia, gonnorhea and syphilis. It is also possible to pass on HIV during oral sex especially if there are cuts or sores in the mouth, genitals or anus.
You can make oral sex safer by using a condom because it acts as a barrier between the mouth and the genitals. Condoms are available in different flavours, but you can use any kind of condom during oral sex.
A dental dam (a square of very thin soft latex) across the anus or female genitals can also protect against infection.
What to do if Your Condom Splits
If your condom splits or comes off during sex you might need to visit your GP or Sexual Health Sheffield for advice and to talk through possible treatments.
Heterosexual couples who were having vaginal sex when the condom split may need to think about possible unintended pregnancy. Emergency contraception, such as the emergency pill (morning after pill) or the intrauterine device (IUD) can be used to prevent pregnancy. Emergency contraception is available free from:-
- Primary Care Sheffield’s Contraception Service
- Most GPs
- Sheffield NHS walk-in centre http://www.onemedicare-sheffield.co.uk
- Some pharmacists (for young people under the age of 20)
The emergency contraceptive pill can also be bought from most pharmacies
Anyone whose condom splits whilst having any type of sex may need to consider having a check-up for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can get free advice, screening and STI treatment at Sexual Health Sheffield.
People having sex with someone who has HIV or with someone you think has HIV where the condom splits or comes off should consider PEP treatment. PEP or Post Exposure Prophylaxis is used as a treatment for people who may have been exposed to HIV and involves taking a month-long course of anti-HIV drugs. In order to be effective PEP needs to be given within 72 hours of the possible exposure to HIV, although it has a better chance of working and preventing HIV infection if treatment is started within 24 hours. Information about and access to PEP treatment is available at Sexual Health Sheffield STI Screening and Treatment Service. At weekends and bank holidays in order to access PEP within the recommended 72 hours of exposure, advice and “starter packs” are available via the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital.
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