Safer-Sex Practices

Correctly using external (on penis) condoms and other barriers like internal (inside the vagina/anus) condoms and dental dams, every time, can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of sexually transmitted infection (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis. They can also provide protection against other diseases that may be transmitted through sex like Zika and Ebola. Using external and external condoms correctly, every time, can also help prevent pregnancy.

The best way to reduce the risk of HIV transmission while performing oral sex is to maintain good oral hygiene. That, in addition to not flossing or brushing your teeth right before or after sex, will also reduce the risk of transmission.

When engaging in oral sex with a partner/s who have a vagina, a dental dam or common kitchen non-microwaveable plastic wrap can be used as a barrier to protect from HIV and STI transmission. If you do not have a dental dam, you can also use a new, unused, non-lubricated or flavored condom by opening, cutting it down the side, and then stretching it out in the same way you would a dental dam or plastic wrap.

In addition to good oral hygiene, proper use of a non-lubricated or flavored condom on a partner with a penis can significantly decrease risk of HIV and STI transmission. If a condom is not available or an option, not receiving semen into the mouth or spitting rather than swallowing will help to reduce the risk.

Most external (on penis) condoms are made of latex. Since some people are allergic to latex (your doctor can test for it if you’ve ever experienced irritation from latex) there are also polyurethane condoms available. When used properly, both latex and polyurethane condoms are effective ways of significantly reducing the risk of HIV transmission. Note: Lambskin, or “natural” condoms will not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).

When using either latex or polyurethane condoms for vaginal or anal sex, water-based lubricants on the outside of the condom will help to reduce friction that could cause the condom to tear. If desired, a small amount can be placed inside the tip of the condom as well.

Important Note: Use of oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline, can deteriorate latex condoms and significantly increase their chance of breaking; oil-based lubricants should only be used with polyurethane condoms.

How to Use an External (on the penis) Condom

When using an external (on the penis) condom: 

  1. Carefully open and remove the condom from the wrapper. Do not use your teeth, as it can rip the condom.
  2. Place a condom on the head of the erect, hard penis. If uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin first.
  3. Pinch air out of the tip of the condom.
  4. Unroll the condom all the way down the penis.
  5. After sex but before pulling out, hold the condom at the base. Then pull out, while holding the condom in place.
  6. Carefully remove the condom and throw it in the trash.

(Source: CDC Condom Use)

How to Use an Internal (inside the vagina/anus) condom

When using a internal (inside the vagina/anus) condom: 

  1. Always store condoms in a cool dry place (not a wallet) and check the expiration date.
  2. Squeeze the package gently to make sure there are no punctures and be sure to not use your teeth to open the package (or your teeth could rip the condom)!
  3. Carefully open and remove condom from package to prevent tearing
  4. The thick, inner ring with closed end is used for placing in the vagina and holds condom in place. The thin, outer ring remains outside of body, covering vaginal opening. If you are using this for anal sex you will remove the inner ring completely and not use it.
  5. Find a comfortable position. While holding outside of condom at closed end, squeeze sides of inner ring together with your thumb and forefinger and insert into vagina. It is similar to inserting a tampon.
  6. Using your finger, push inner ring as far up as it will go – near the pubic bone. The condom will expand naturally and you may not feel it.
  7. Be sure condom is not twisted. The thin, outer ring should remain outside vagina. 
  8. Guide partner’s penis into opening of internal condom. Stop intercourse if you feel penis slip between condom and walls of vagina or if outer ring is pushed into vagina.
  9. To remove, gently twist outer ring and pull internal condom out of vagina.
  10. Throw away the internal condom in trash after using it one time. Do not reuse.

(Source: CDC Condom Use)

Using a Condom

Do This

Don't do this

  • DO use a condom every time you have sex.
  • DO put on a condom before having sex.
  • DO read the package and check the expiration date.
  • DO make sure there are no tears or defects.
  • DO store condoms in a cool, dry place.
  • DO use latex or polyurethane condoms.
  • DO use water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage.
  • DON’T use an external condom with an internal condom, as this can cause tearing. 
  • DON’T store condoms in your wallet as heat and friction can damage them.
  • DON’T use nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), as this can cause irritation.
  • DON’T use oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they will cause the condom to break.
  • DON’T use more than one condom at a time.
  • DON’T reuse a condom.