How is HIV Transmitted? : How are condoms used correctly?

A Smart + Strong Site
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
How is HIV Transmitted?
en español

How are condoms used correctly?

Contrary to popular opinion, it's not only the sexually inexperienced who aren't familiar with how to use a condom effectively. Whether you're just starting to have sex—or have been going at it for years—a little information may be useful and important.

  • Men: Practice using male condoms while masturbating. MSM hoping to use female condoms for receptive anal sex are also encouraged to practice inserting and removing the condom before using it during intercourse.
  • Women: Practice using male condoms on penis-shaped objects, including ketchup bottles or bananas. Practicing the insertion and removal of female condoms, before they are used during vaginal intercourse, is also recommended.

Remember that the condom must be on the penis before it is inserted into the vagina or anus. The same holds true for female condoms—they must be inserted properly before intercourse begins.

Male condoms should be used only once. Use a new male condom for each episode of intercourse. One study has suggested that female condoms can be reused up to five times, provided that they are disinfected with bleach and water. However, experts caution that the safest way to use female condoms is to use them only once and then discard them.

Here are the key points that always need to be remembered when using male condoms:

Putting on a condom:

Condoms are individually sealed in aluminum or plastic wrapping. Be careful not to tear the condom while unsealing it. Never use a condom that is torn or seems brittle or stiff, past its expiration date, or exposed to extreme heat or cold.
If not circumcised, pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom.
Leave a half-inch space at the tip of the condom to collect semen. Pinch the air out of the tip with one hand while unrolling the condom over the penis with the other hand.
Roll the condom down to the base of the penis.
Smooth out any air bubbles and lubricate the outside of the condom generously.
Use only one condom at a time. Using two condoms at a time, including two male condoms or a male and a female condom, can increase friction and lead to breakage.

Taking the condom off:

Be sure to pull out of the vagina or anus before the penis goes soft.
Clasp the condom against the base of the penis while pulling out.
Throw the condom away immediately.
Wash the penis with soap and water before post-sex intimacy.

If the condom breaks during intercourse:

Pull out quickly and replace it. Men should be able to tell if a condom breaks during intercourse. To learn what it feels like, men should purposely break a condom while masturbating.
If semen leaks out during intercourse and the insertive partner is HIV positive (or his HIV status is not known), contact a healthcare provider or hospital emergency room to discuss the risk and the possibility of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

PEP involves a 28-day course of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that needs to be started within 72 hours of possible exposure to the virus. Generally speaking, only people who have had a high-risk situation (e.g., condomless receptive anal or vaginal intercourse with someone known to be HIV positive) are considered to be good candidates for PEP.

back next

Last Revised: August 17, 2012

This content is written by the POZ and AIDSmeds editorial team. For more information, please visit our "About Us" page.

Prevention updates
Gay Relationship Dynamics Affect Perception of Partner’s HIV Status

Specific Antibody May Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Homophobia Keeps European Gay Men Ignorant About HIV

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Issues Latest Anti-PrEP Salvo

Safest Cheapest Way for Her to Get Pregnant? Control His HIV

At Last, Gold-Standard Evidence Backs Early Treatment of HIV

PrEP Reaches Top Effectiveness After a Week of Daily Dosing

PrEP Prescriptions on Dramatic Upswing in New York State

PrEP Is Ready for Primetime

Early HIV Phase May Be Less Infectious Than Once Thought

Single Dose of Selzentry Does Not Reach Levels High Enough for PrEP

Gay Mixed-HIV-Status Couple Study Has No Transmissions So Far

WHO Calls for Universal Use of 'Smart Syringes' by 2020

BMS Maturation Inhibitor Is Potent Against HIV in Early Trial

Preventing HIV in One High-Risk Person Saves up to $340,000

PrEP Reduces Group of Gay Men’s Risk of HIV By 86% in UK Study

Intercourse-Based PrEP Dosing Lowers HIV Risk in Gays, But Why?

91% of HIV Passes From Those Unaware They’re Infected or Not in Care

Critiquing UNAIDS HIV Prevention Goals, AVAC Calls For Honed Strategy

Anti-HIV Molecule May Lead to Vaccine and Long-Acting Treatment

> More Treatment News

Search for news stories about this topic

Lesson Index
Collapse All | Up One Level

Tell us what you think
Have you visited your health care provider within the last 4 months?

The Power of Prevention

more surveys

[ about AIDSmeds | AIDSmeds advisory board | our staff | advertising policy | advertise/contact us]
© 2015 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.