page updated: 31-Mar-2004

Anyway, here are some things I know about safely using condoms:

Latex condoms help prevent infections from being transmitted by sex. Animal skin ones don't. So, if a person has a latex allergy and wants to use a condom to protect against infection, the best solution is to layer the condoms to have an animal one next to them, and a latex one under or over it (depending on who is allergic)-- rather than just using animal ones plain. If both people are allergic, sandwich a latex one between two non-latex ones. Or, use a female condom; they are poly-something (-ethylene? -urethane?) not latex.

To protect against pregnancy or anything else, it is important to have a condom in place on the frisky penis before it comes into contact with its partner's sensitive regions. Before a man reaches orgasm, he secretes various pre-ejaculatory fluids that can contain both infectious pathogens and impregnating sperm. Also it is important to hold the condom onto the penis when withdrawing from a partner, and to get out of there before it goes completely soft, to avoid spilling anything and rendering the whole condom operation pointless.

When putting a condom on, it is good to pinch the little reservoir flat so that it doesn't have any air in it. Apparently this reduces the chance of it popping. Also, the condom has to unroll all the way down the penis. If it won't unroll all the way, it is on wrong and could come off during sex. If you take a condom off, it is best to get a whole new one and start again, since the old one will have pre-ejaculate on it that could end up on the outside of the condom. For this same reason, if you place a rolled up condom onto the end of a penis, then realise that it is backwards and won't unroll, don't just flip it over! Get a new one! The first one just got put into a puddle of sperm that will end up on its outer surface.

To prevent condom breakage, it helps for it to be slippery. Some condoms are lubricated, which helps, as does a woman's natural lubrication. There are also lubricants that can be bought. Anything petroleum based (vaseline, hand lotion, cold cream, other things) will very quickly dissolve little holes in the latex of a condom and can make it break. Use water-based lubricants. KY jelly is at every drug store and most have Astroglide, and sex shops have a whole variety of flavoured creams, gels and liquids (just make sure they say water-based or condom-safe on them). Glycerine lubes taste a little sweet, while glycerine-free ones (for people with glycerine allergies, or just because) can taste a little funny (only a little).

It can feel good to put a little lube inside a condom for the guy to enjoy, but to prevent the latex slipping off use it sparingly (like a drop). Also, if a guy has an unsteady erection, for whatever reason (these things happen), be careful about relying on condoms. A penis that goes a bit soft while thrusting can quite easily wiggle out of its latex prison.

Properly using condoms makes sex much safer but does not completely protect against pregnancy or infection. The Kinsey Institute (for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction) publishes the failure rate of condoms as averaging 10 failures per 100 couples who use them for a year. So if you use them for a year you have a 1 in 10 chance of having one break, come off or just not work. If you don't use them properly the risk is higher. Also, condoms don't prevent all fluid transfer during sex. My boy will have wet patches on his thighs and belly from me after we are finished, and condoms don't cover those areas. Fluid exchange means possibility of disease transfer, even if it is a much reduced risk from unprotected sex.

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