Did you know that condoms have been around since 1642? When Ross got Rachel pregnant in FRIENDS, it was a shock to most - condoms aren’t 100% effective and it says so on the box! Nonetheless, there is no better form of protection than condoms. They protect you against both sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Trust me when I say that not many forms of protection can give you that combination - not birth control pills, not contraceptive implants and not even intrauterine devices.
But as a beginner, we all have a million questions about condoms, especially the types of condoms, and when you should use which one. So, we’re here to help you clear all your doubts about condoms. Once you’re done with this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about condoms - including how to use one, what to do if a condom breaks and mistakes to avoid!
Importance Of Condoms
Things To Know Before Buying
Types Of Condoms
How To Use
Check Condom For Tears
If Your Condom Breaks
Mistakes You’re Making
Why Are Condoms Important?
Condoms Prevent Pregnancies
This has to be the most important reason for using condoms. You shouldn’t have to abstain from sex just because you don’t want babies and that’s exactly what birth control methods are for. If you’re on some other method of control, adding condoms to the list will only reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
They Are Effective Against STDs and STIs
A benefit that only condoms as a form of birth control can provide. All other methods of contraception may prevent pregnancies, but they do nothing to reduce the risk of STDs, including HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and all such infections.
Condoms Have No Side Effects
The side effects of condoms are next to nothing, except if you are allergic to latex and even that can be helped with non-latex options. Compared to IUDs, pills, shots or rings, condoms are the safest to use since they do not involve doses of hormones and are for one-time use only.
Things To Know Before Buying A Condom
- Different Types Of Condoms
With the options available in the market, from dotted to extra long to spermicidal ones, you are bound to get confused about the type of condom you want. While we’ve covered all types of condoms and how to select the best one for your needs in this article, you still need to have a conversation about this with your partner. She may want a female condom for her own peace of mind while you were thinking of a ribbed one. That’s why you need to come to a decision beforehand.
- Are You Allergic To Latex?
Latex allergy causes rashes, itching, burning sensations or in some severe cases, anaphylactic shock. So if you already know you’re allergic, latex-free condoms are your best (and only) bet. They’re a little difficult to find, but you can always bulk order them online and be prepared for a long time.
- What’s Your Size?
This one is for all the men in your life. We know size is an issue, but you should be very realistic when it comes to condoms. With variations like small, medium, large and extra large, read the dimensions to choose the most snug fit. A tight condom may cut off blood supply to the penis and a loose one will slip and rip easily. Remember guys, technique matters, not the size.
- It’s Okay To Be Judged
Sometimes, people give you looks when you go to a convenience store to buy a pack of condoms. Don’t think much of it - your protection is more important than what a random stranger thinks of it. Don’t let a few looks deter you from practicing safe sex. An unpleasant conversation is totally worth not getting an STD or avoiding a pregnancy scare.
- Can You Buy Condoms Online?
Not that you should avoid it, but if you can, why not? If it’s not an emergency and can be avoided, you can always order the condoms online from the safety of your bedroom without having to worry about anyone spotting or judging you.
Types Of Condoms
- Extra Thin Condoms
The most common complaint about condoms is the lack of closeness. But then again, you shouldn't really skip condoms for that extra intimacy. To solve your problem, there are extra thin ones to provide maximum closeness to each other. And not just that, they provide extra sensitivity too. If there was a win-win, it's this one! But you should know, these ones are more prone to tearing than the other kind.
- Latex Free Condoms
There are people who are allergic to latex and aren’t able to use latex condoms. For them, latex-free condoms happen to be the best bet! These condoms also feel completely natural and heighten the pleasure.
- Textured Condoms
Ribbed or dotted condoms have different textures for that extra pleasure. As the name suggests, they have tiny ribs or dots for the pleasure of both partners. This happens because the raised dots are both inside and outside the condoms, that hit the right spots, for her pleasure and his. Make sure to try this once at least!
- Extra Safe Condoms
If you're super cautious and just cannot afford to get pregnant at any cost, you need the extra safe condoms. Not only are they thicker but they're also difficult to tear, for you have that extra wall of safety. Bye-bye, pregnancy scares and STIs!
- Edible Condoms
I, honestly, did not know that edible condoms existed until very recently. But, thanks to my boyfriend and his experiments, I now have more knowledge. But the thing about these is that they're only meant to be consumed and there is no protection provided, whatsoever!
- Performance Enhancing Condoms
Performance enhancing condoms have really changed the game. They can help both the partners climax simultaneously or even delay their orgasm. Usually, these condoms speed things up for the woman and slow things down for the man, helping you both come together. Well, I'll have five of these to go, please!
- Flavoured Condoms
If you haven't ever heard of strawberry, chocolate and green apple condoms, you're missing out on a lot. These condoms should be your favoured choice if you like giving a blowjob with a condom on.
- Female Condoms
Sadly, a lot of people don't know these exist, but they do, my friends. The only downside about these is that initially, they are a little difficult to get the hang of. But honestly, once you learn how to use them, you don't need to depend on a man for protection. This condom has flexible rings at each end and needs to be inserted deep into the vagina before sex.
- Lubricated Condoms
A little extra lubrication never hurt anybody, so lubricated condoms are a good option for all those people, women especially, who may be a little dry down there. In fact, extra lubrication only makes things more pleasurable for both the partners. There are two kinds of lubricated condoms - ones that have lubrication outside and ones that have lubrication on both sides.
- Spermicidal Condoms
If you aren't on the pill and need a little extra protection, spermicidal condoms are the best for you. It provides doubled protection as condoms are, obviously, a natural barrier, plus if there are any tears, the spermicide ensures that any sperm released, is killed.
How To Use A Condom
Here are the steps to using a condom in the most effective manner to reduce the chances of unwanted STIs or pregnancies.
- Open the packet of condom carefully, tearing on the outer edge of the wrapping. DO NOT use your teeth, nails or a scissor to open the packet. That way, you run a serious risk of unknowingly ripping the condom. Condom packages are, for this reason only, pretty easy to open as they usually have a tab on the side you can tear along with.
- Before putting the condom on, check if you’re holding it the right way up. You’ll know it’s the right side up if it rolls down effortlessly. If you have to stick your fingers inside to roll it down, you’re using it on the wrong side.
If you’ve put the condom the wrong way, you’ll have to throw it out and start over. Any condom that’s come in touch with the head of the penis has been contaminated.
- Pinch the little tip of the condom while rolling it down. This will prevent any air bubbles from being trapped inside the condom. Also, you’ll need to leave a little room for the ejaculate, so roll down the condom a little before placing it on the lil soldier.
- Cover the whole shaft with the condom and have sex however you like it - crazy, wild, slow or sensual.
- Once you’re done, hold onto the rim of the condom and withdraw from your partner’s body before the penis goes soft to prevent the condom from becoming loose and slipping off. After that, remove the condom, tie it up and throw it in the bin. NEVER flush it! You’ll clog the toilet and everyone will know what you were up to.
How To Check Your Condom For Tears
Before Using It
There is a possibility of your condom having tears before you’ve used it. This happens because of improper storage, expiration of condom or incorrect opening of the packet. So before you put on the condom, take a minute to check it for rips. You can do this by pressing slightly on the wrapper. You should be able to feel air resistance when you do so, which means the condom is good to go.
If you take out the condom and it is dry, stiff or extra sticky, it could mean that the condom wasn’t stored properly. Also, make sure you put it on correctly and use a lot of lubricant during sex to avoid any accidents.
It is actually pretty easy to tell if the condom has ripped. Usually, the tear is pretty visible and mostly the ripping sound can be heard. However, if in the heat of the moment, you did not focus enough to notice anything, you can always find out later since a torn condom will leak.
What To Do If Your Condom Breaks?
Even the most level-headed person can go into a panic on realizing the condom has ripped during sex. But this is the time you need to stay calm and take certain precautionary steps to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
1) The first thing you need to do is take an emergency contraceptive pill like iPill as soon as possible to reduce any chances of getting pregnant.
2) You also need to get yourself and your partner to your nearest clinic and get yourself checked for HIV and other infections. Just like emergency contraceptive pills, there are also courses of medicine that can be immediately administered as a preventive measure.
3) If you still miss a period after the session in which your condom broke, take an at-home pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.
Myths About A Condom
- If You’re Homosexual, You Don’t Need A Condom.
Truth: No matter what your sexual orientation, you NEED to use condoms. Like we’ve said, condoms not only prevent pregnancies, they prevent STDs which are passed on where there is an exchange of bodily fluids. Since this happens in oral, anal and vaginal, condoms are necessary for all, no matter your sexual orientation.
- You Can Store Condoms Anyway You Want!
Truth: This is absolutely false. In fact, you need to be careful of how you store condoms because you can damage them. Storing them in your wallet may ruin them due to constant friction. Also, you can’t store them in very high or very low temperatures like in direct sunlight, in the fridge or even in a wet area. A good hiding place would be in your socks in the underwear drawer. Shhh, don’t tell anyone I told you that.
- Condoms Don’t Expire
Truth: While most condoms have a pretty long shelf life, there are some that expire quickly such as the spermicidal or lubricated ones. You need to careful while reading the packaging as expired condoms may lose their flexibility and tear easily.
- They Are 100% Safe
Truth: Condoms are 98% effective if they’re used correctly. A lot of statistics also mention that they are 85% effective but this is when human error is taken into account i.e the mistakes people make when putting on or removing condoms. So if you nail the use of a condom, there is only a 2% chance of failure. Pretty convincing, right?
- They Break Easily
Truth: Condoms are strong enough for their purpose. It’s the mishandling of condoms that causes them to rip. If you’re careful with its use, the chances of it failing are pretty darn low.
- It Reduces Sensations
Truth: Condoms were created to have sex. This means that these little things will, in no way, hamper your performance or the sensations. It may feel a little weird in the start when you’re getting used to it but after a while, it’ll all be normal. Ladies, don’t let men use that as an excuse to practice unsafe sex.
- It’s His Responsibility
Truth: In this day and age when we constantly talk about equality and embracing your own sexuality, it would be counterintuitive to put the responsibility of protection all on him. You can also buy condoms if you know you will be getting intimate with your partner. Moreover, there are super effective female condoms available as well that provide the same level of protection and are easy to use. So, own it girl!
- Condoms Are Unnecessary When You’re With Your Long-term Partner
Truth: Infections don’t spread only if you’re having one-night stands. They cannot make that distinction between a long-term relationship or a random hookup. That is why you can get infected. The worst part about it, though, is that some of these infections can be in the latent stage for months before the symptoms show up.
- If You’re Having Sex Twice In A Night, You Only Need The Condom For The First Time.
Truth: I do not understand where this myth originated from and why. Every time a man ejaculates inside you or very close to your private parts, you run a serious risk of getting pregnant. It doesn’t matter how many rounds you go for in a night, you need to be sheathed for each!
- Only Latex Condoms Are Effective
Truth: There are four kinds of condoms - latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane or natural/lambskin. All of the other condoms have been tested in the lab and it has been proven that they are just as effective as the latex ones.
Mistakes You’re Making While Using A Condom
- Opening Your Condoms Wrong
Like we’ve mentioned before, if you use sharp objects like scissors, nails or teeth to rip open the packet of condoms, you may end up ruining the condom.
- Buying The Wrong Size
Just because it sounds cool, you don’t have to buy extra large condoms. They’ll slip off during sex and you wouldn’t be achieving their intended purpose. If you’re a medium, you’re a medium and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Using Two Condoms At A Time
In this case, there is something called too much protection. Never ever use two condoms at the same time, whether it’s a male and female or two male condoms. The friction between the two will make them more susceptible to tears and damage and instead of hedging your bets, you’ll only be increasing the risk.
- Not Using Lubrication
Lubrication not only makes things more pleasurable, but it also reduces the risk of tearing by a huge margin. So, put a drop of lube on the inside of the condom and then add a little extra on the top and get humpin’!
ProTip: You need to be careful to avoid using oil-based lubricants with latex condom since they break down the condoms. Stick to silicone- and water-based lubes and you’re good to go!
- Not Checking The Expiry Date
Assuming that condoms never expire is a mistake. Everything that is manufactured has a shelf life. Condoms, in fact, become dry and easily damaged when they get past the expiration date. That’s why you need to always check the pack before you pick it off the shelf and add it to your shopping cart.
- Wearing One Before You Are Fully Erect
If you wear it before you’re fully erect, it wouldn’t be as good a fit as it would be if you wore it if you were fully erect.
- Not Removing The Condom Quickly
Men go soft pretty quickly after sex and if you don’t remove your condom before that, there’s a chance of spillage since it will become loose. So as soon as you orgasm, try and remove that condom before you lose the erection. If you’re careful about the little things, it makes a big difference!
- Not Using Condoms For Oral Or Anal Sex
This is something that has already been discussed in the article, too. Any sex act that involves an exchange of body fluids makes you susceptible to STDs. While oral and anal sex may not get you pregnant, you might get infections like herpes from it!
- Reusing Condoms
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Do not ever reuse a condom. Don’t flip it over or wash it for round two. Once you’ve used a condom, it goes straight into the trash can unless you want to risk being pregnant or getting an STD, which we’re sure you don’t.
Now that you have educated yourself about the types of condoms and its uses, have a pleasurable, safe sex life!
Images: Shutterstock, Giphy
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This story was updated in January 2019.