It’s also worth noting that proper fit plays a huge part in putting on a condom successfully. If your condom is too large, too small, too thick, too slim, too long, too short, or just plain the wrong shape, you’re going to have a much more difficult time putting on a condom than you will when you have the right sized condom. (Condom sizes? Yes! See how you measure up.)
The best solution? Grab a sampler pack of different sizes and practice the steps below.
Let’s talk timing. You or your partner should put the condom on after the penis in question has gotten hard/erect, but before it has touched your partner’s mouth or genital areas. This includes the vulva and vagina, the anus, the buttocks, and the upper thighs.
This might seem obvious, but we’ll say it just in case: the condom needs to be worn the entire time you’re having sex. Not only will this help protect you from STIs/STDs that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, but it also prevents contact with pre-cum, which can have germs and sometimes sperm that can cause infection or pregnancy.
Make sure your tools are intact. Condoms generally last several years in their wrapper, but you should make it a habit to check the expiration date before use. Open the condom foils carefully and make sure you don’t damage the contents. Don’t use sharp objects to tear the packaging — this includes keys, pocket knives, scissors, and your teeth.
Check your direction. It’s important to make sure you’re putting on a condom in the right direction. The rolled rim should be on the outside, so the condom looks like a little hat. Place it on the tip of the penis and try unrolling it a bit — should unroll very easily. If it doesn’t, it’s inside out.
Remember: safety first! If you accidentally start putting on a condom inside out, you need to start over with a new condom. Don’t flip it around and reuse it.
Pro tip for your (penis) tip: put a few drops of high-quality lube inside the condom tip before you put it on. Lube can make sex with condoms feel much better, and can also prevent condoms (especially ultra thin condoms) from breaking.
You should also add more lube to the outside of the condom after it’s fully rolled onto the shaft.
The next step is a pinch. Literally! Pinch the tip of the condom just above the head of the penis and roll the rest of the condom down the shaft. Putting on a condom this way leaves some room at the top to collect semen (which is the goal!)
If you’re uncircumcised, it may be more comfortable (and pleasurable) to pull your foreskin back before putting the condom on the head of the penis, pinching the tip of the condom, and then rolling it down.
Tuck and (un)roll. After you’ve put the condom over the head of the penis, unroll it down the shaft — all the way to the base. If the condom doesn’t reach the base of your penis, you need a longer condom. It’s important to make sure that your entire penis is covered — otherwise you’re leaving yourself and your partner susceptible to STIs.
Congratulations! You’re now ready to engage in your sexual activity of choice, confident in the knowledge that your condom is locked, loaded, and properly in place.
Taking off a condom is almost as important as putting on a condom. After you ejaculate, hold onto the base of the condom and pull your penis out of your partner, careful to avoid letting the condom slip off. Do this before the penis goes soft, so the condom doesn’t get loose and let any semen out.
Carefully take the condom off away from your partner so you don’t accidentally spill semen on them. Throw the condom away in the garbage. Don’t flush it down the toilet — it will clog the pipes. If you’re being discreet, you can wrap the used condom and its wrapper in toilet paper and throw them in the trash.
You cannot reuse condoms. Ever. Even if you wash them. Especially if you wash them! Seriously, this should not be a thing. Never ever ever ever ever use the same condom more than once.
You need to use a new condom each time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. That includes each time you switch between each orifice. Switching from vaginal to anal? Put on a new condom. Anal to oral? New condom. Oral to vaginal? New condom.
Any time there’s a potential transfer of fluids, you need to switch your condom for a new one. When in doubt, switch it out.
If the penis gets soft during intercourse, you should stop and put on a new condom. It’s not uncommon to lose your erection during sex for any number of reasons, especially if your condom isn’t the perfect fit.
When this happens, don’t try to get hard again using the same condom. Take the original condom off, and one the penis is hard again, roll on a new one.
Putting on a condom properly isn’t hard, but your penis has to be. (It’s important to make sure you’re doing it right.)
It’s not embarrassing to need to refresh your condom technique, even as an adult — plenty of people make it through their teen years without ever really learning the right way to put on a condom. The important thing is that, no matter what age you are, you do learn how to put on a condom the right way.
In the end, the confidence that comes with knowing you’ve put safety first for yourself and your partner will improve the sexual experience and result in increased pleasure for you both.