There are many ways to have sex and many ways to prevent STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Get familiar with different types of condoms, oral sex protectors and lubes to find your preference for you and your partners.
- Condoms prevent the transmission of STIs from vaginal and anal intercourse and oral sex.
- Dental dams prevent STIs during fondling of vulva or anus by mouth.
- Sexual lubricants, also known as lubes, can increase pleasure in sex, decreases abrasion of the tissues and the risk of condom breaking.
- In addition to condoms, dental dams and lubes there, PrEP medication can be used to prevent HIV transmission.
A condom is a barrier protection method to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. It’s typically made of latex and used on erect penis. When properly used, the condom is an effective method to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. There are many types of condoms. Finding one that fits and matches your preferences is an important step for safe and pleasurable sex.
To use a condom, place it on the erect penis before intercourse or oral sex. The condom needs to be used for the whole act, from beginning to the end. You should change a condom if: the sex is interrupted, the sex act or partner is switched, if sex toys are switched from person to person.
Shape and size
There are different shapes and sizes of condoms. They can be straight or tapered, thick or thin, smooth or textured. The right fit doesn’t feel unpleasantly tight and stays well on the penis.
Typically condoms are made of latex, but there are polyurethane condoms for those who are sensitive to latex. Condoms can be used on sex toys and are a good way to prevent STIs when a sex toy has multiple users. Condom needs to be changed when switching the toy from one user to another.
Lubricant together with condoms
Condoms and lube are a perfect match. Sexual lubricants decrease the friction in intercourse and help keep the condom intact. Lubricants can be used on the condom or vagina and anus. Oil-based lubricants are not safe to use with most condoms as they dissolve latex. Polyurethane condoms are an exception and can be used with oils and oil-based lubricants.
If a condom breaks or is removed during sex, you should get tested for STIs. Tests are available in healthcare centers, STI clinics and student or work healthcare. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have a sexually transmitted infection. Tests can typically be made 2 weeks after suspected transmission. Read more about STIs here.
If your condom breaks often, you should try other sizes and shapes of condoms to find a right fit. Also read up and practice proper use of condoms. Lubricants help keep the condom intact.
How to use a condom!
- Open the package carefully as shown in the picture. Make sure the condom rolls out the right way.
- Pull back the foreskin. Pinch the tip of the condom to get any air bubbles out. Roll the condom on when your penis is erect (hard). Do not use two condoms on top of each other.
- A water-based or silicone lubricant enhances sexual pleasure and decreases friction. Using a lubricant with a condom is particularly important in anal intercourse.
- Use a condom only once and throughout the intercourse.
- When a condom is used with a sex toy, it should be changed if the person who is penetrated or touched with the sex toy changes. A new condom is needed, when the sex toy is moved from vagina to anal and vice versa.
- Right after you ejaculate, pull out your penis. Hold on to the condom when you do this to prevent it from slipping off and to prevent semen getting into your partner.
- Dispose of the condom in mixed waste. Do not flush it down the toilet.
In addition to typical condoms there are internal condoms, also known as femidoms or “female condoms”. It can be used vaginally or anally and is larger than condoms used over penises. Internal condoms can be set in place well prior intercourse and are an effective way to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. You can find directions for the use of internal condoms here.
Oral sex is very common. STIs can transmit in oral sex from the genitals to mouth or throat or vice versa. Oral sex protections include ready to use commercial dental dams or a sheet cut from a condom. To prevent STIs they should be used when pleasuring vulva or anus. When pleasuring a partner with a penis, you should use a condom.
Dental dams are used by placing them over vulva and/or anus and keeping them in place through the whole duration of oral sex. They are single-use and must be disposed after use.
How to make a dental dam of a condom?
- Remove the condom from packaging. Don’t roll the condom open yet.
- Cut the tip of the condom off.
- Insert the scissors through the hole you created and cut the condom open.
- Roll the (now rectangular) condom open and place it on the area you’d like to fondle.
Sexual lubricants, also known as lubes, are water-, silicone- or oil-based lubricants made for sex. Lubricants are an easy way to increase pleasure and safety during sex. They should be used with condoms and sex toys. Lube keeps the condom intact and protects the genital tissues from scratches and tears. Plenty of lube should be used in anal sex as the rectum doesn’t produce natural lubricants. You should not use a numbing lube as it might lead to tears in the tissue when you cannot feel accurate pain sensations. Lube should always be used during anal sex with a condom to protect the condom from breaking.
Water based, silicone based or oil based lubricant?
The type of preferred lube depends on the use and the user. Water-based lubes are generally safe to use in every situation. They can be used with or without a condom and with sex toys. There are different textures to choose from with options for flavors and vegan or sensitive formulas.
Silicon-based lubricants are typically thicker and long lasting which is why many prefer them for anal sex. They are more difficult to wash off and cannot be used with silicone sex toys. There are options of hybrid lubes that are both silicone- and water-based.
Oil-based lubes can’t be used with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants can be used in any type of sex when there isn’t a condom in use or the condom is made from polyurethane.