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Condoms, when used properly, can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. Condoms can be bought at most drug stores, corner stores and grocery stores. Health clinics, youth clinics, and sexual health clinics often have free condoms available to the public.

What condom to use

Condoms come in many styles, colours, flavours and sizes. Condoms that fit well will feel better and are less likely to fall off or break. With the right fit, you are more likely to use them. Try some different ones out to find what suits you best.

Condoms made of latex or non-latex*, give the best STI protection. Don' t use condoms with the spermicide nonoxynol-9. It can cause irritation and  increase the chance of getting HIV. Lambskin or sheepskin condoms protect against pregnancy, but are not effective for preventing STIs, including HIV. Novelty condoms, such as “edible” condoms, do not offer protection against either STIs or pregnancy.

The external (male) condom made of thin latex that fits snugly over the penis. There is a tip at the top to hold semen (cum). The internal (female) condom is made from synthetic nitrile, a type of material that is thinner than latex but stronger so less likely to break. The internal condom is a good option for people who are sensitive or allergic to latex.

A new condom should be used every time you have intercourse, with each new partner and when switching from anal to vaginal sex.The condom should be put on before the penis touches the partner's genitals or anus. See the steps below on how to use a condom: 

  • Check the expiry date on the package
  • Be careful not to tear the condom when taking it out of the packet
  • Add a drop of water-soluble lubricant to the inside of the condom if you like
  • Check to see which way the condom rolls and put the condom on the end of the erect penis
  • Pinch the tip of the condom to remove the air in the tip
  • Unroll the condom down to the base of the penis
  • After intercourse, withdraw the penis before it becomes soft; hold onto the condom to make sure that semen does not spill out
  • Slide the condom off the penis, tie the open end in a knot and throw it in the garbage 

Keep your condoms in a cool, dry, dark place. Heat, light and moisture break down the condom and make it more likely to break.

* Non-latex materials include nitrile, polyurethane and polyisoprene.

Condoms and oral sex

Condoms are recommended for oral sex because some STIs, including herpes simplex, gonorrhea and syphilis, are easily passed during oral sex. Use condoms on the penis or cut them lengthwise and hold them against the vagina/frontal hole or anus to make a barrier. Flavoured and non-lubricated condoms may taste better than regular latex condoms.

Some tips for pleasure and condoms

Some people say that sex is just not the same with condoms. Others feel that using condoms is less intimate or it means you don’t trust your partner. On the other hand, many people see regular condom use as a sign of caring. Using condoms can show that you are willing to take steps to keep yourself and others healthy.

Learning to be comfortable with condoms and making them a regular part of your sexual life can improve your confidence with sex and prevent STIs. Keep condoms nearby so that they are easy to use when you need them. With practice, people can put on a condom in less than 5 seconds. Studies show that over time, you will notice the condom less and the pleasure more

Make condoms part of foreplay. Have your partner put it on you. Think of it as something you can be creative with and also build into a routine.

Losing erections and not being able to ejaculate may be a problem for some men when they use condoms.  Here are some things you can try:

  • Masturbate with a condom on to get used to the sensation
  • Masturbate until close to ejaculation (cumming), then put the condom on and finish
  • Do all the things you like to do sexually, but with a condom on; focus on what feels good 
  • Use water-soluble lubricant (lube) on the inside and outside to improve sensation 


HealthLink BC – Condoms help prevent STIs
How to put on a condom – YouTube video demonstration
SexandU.ca – A guide to non-hormonal contraception
Toward the Heart – Search by city or postal code to find clinics in BC that provide free safer sex supplies
Avert.org – Using condoms, types and sizes

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