While it’s your best bet against disease and unplanned pregnancy if you’re a sexually active girl, a condom is only effective if you’re using it the right way. Here are a few common mistakes most of us make when using condoms - and just what you can do about it!
1. Using it without checking the expiration dateThis is very important. Condoms work only as long as they are meant to work - beyond the expiry date, you might as well be relying on fate and the universe to keep you safe from disease and pregnancy. If you bought your stash a few years ago, and/ or don’t have the packaging on which the date was printed, throw it away right now and buy a fresh batch.
2. Storing it in your wallet or handbagSounds like a logical thing to do, right? Wrong. If you keep a condom in a wallet that you regularly slip into your pocket, or in the middle of a hundred other things in your handbag, basically, it’s being pushed around and distorted all day long. This creates stress on the latex of the condom, and weakens it, rendering it easy to break when you’re actually using it. It’s best to store condoms in the original packaging as far as possible. Alternatively, you can also keep them in a zipped pouch or a box - whatever keeps it safe and free from pressure.
3. Not cleaning your hands before using itNewsflash: even though the latex that condoms are made out of is non-porous, it is easily rendered porous and weak by coming in contact with chemicals and oils. This includes the salts in sweat, chemicals in massage oils and non-water-based lubricants and so on and so forth. So wash your hands before (with soap), and pat them dry with a towel or tissues before you touch the condom.
4. Forgetting to test it right before the actWell, you can actually test a condom even before you take it out of the foil. Just fold the foil gently into two and press it with your fingers - you should be able to feel the bubble caused by the air inside the pack. If you don’t feel any air at all (cushioning the condom), it means that the foil probably has a tiny nick or hole somewhere, and your condom might too. Use a different one, please. Also be careful about taking the condom out of the foil - rip only from one of the serrated edges and tear along the edge without touching the condom inside. If the condom gets pulled or stretched in the process of taking it out, best to chuck it and use a fresh one.
5. Not putting it on the right wayThe most important thing to do when you’re putting the condom on is to pinch the tip (which is shaped like a tiny bulb), so that no air pockets are formed inside while the condom is being unrolled over the penis. That little section is where the semen is supposed to collect upon ejaculation - and air bubbles trapped there (or anywhere else along the shaft when it it’s being put on) can make it burst thanks to all the friction during sex. It’s like a super sensitive balloon, really. Also, the ends of the condom should settle firmly around the base of the penis in order to avoid it coming off during sex.
6. Double-baggingWhoever said two condoms means twice the protection - that person was WRONG, and we hope you’ve never listened to them. Wearing two condoms at the same time basically means that the condoms are rubbing against each other, and the resultant causing some major wear and tear of the rubber and resulting in breakage. Please don’t try this - just using the one is enough!
7. Disposing it carelesslySo you’re done, and you need to get rid of the condom. Well, do not flush it in the loo - while it might seem like the convenient option, that rubber is not water-soluble, and so can get stuck in the pipes and cause some major blockage of drains. The thing to do is hold up the used condom and tie a knot at the end (away from the tip where the semen has collected) to avoid stuff spilling out. And then seal it in a plastic bag and throw it out with your regular trash. Don’t just throw it into the trash before sealing it, though - it’s biological waste, so it degrades quickly and can stink and also breed insects you’d rather not have to deal with. Images: Shutterstock, TumblrHAVE A STORY IDEA FOR POPxo? If you want to hear about it, we can write about it! Just tell us your idea here!MUST-READ: Sex 101: Everything You Need To Know About CondomsMUST-READ: #DidYouKnow: SIX Kinds Of Contraceptives You Can Use!