Safer Sex

When you decide to have sex, you always need to protect yourself from STIs. You also need to protect yourself from getting pregnant until you are ready to have a baby.

Condoms and the dental dam—methods that provide a physical barrier—give the best protection from STIs. Condoms also provide some protection from pregnancy.

Many birth control methods provide no protection against STIs. Many people believe the best solution is a physical barrier combined with birth control.

Here are the basic steps to use a male condom:

Step 1

Check the expiry date, and open the package carefully.

Step 2

Start when the penis is hard (erect). Pull back the foreskin, if not circumcised.

Step 3

Pinch the top of the condom.

Step 4

Unroll it down the penis with the other hand.

Step 5

After ejaculation, hold the condom as the penis pulls out of the vagina to ensure that no semen escapes. Slide it off carefully, holding the bottom to keep the semen inside.

Step 6

Put the used condom in the garbage, not the toilet. Never re-use a condom.

Tips for Using Male and Female Condoms

Condoms are only effective if you use them properly. Use these tips to make sure you don’t get pregnant and to protect you against STIs.

  • Store properly at room temperature, in a dry place and away from direct sunlight. Don’t let them freeze or get too hot.
  • Check the expiry date. Do not use expired condoms.
  • Put the condom on before genitals touch. Condoms are effective only if they form a barrier between genitals.
  • Use extra lube to help prevent them breaking and to make it easier to use them.
  • Use a condom only once. Throw it in the garbage right away after use—not in the toilet. Use a new condom for each sexual activity.
  • Use a condom every time. Unprotected sex puts you at risk for STIs and pregnancy. Condoms create a physical barrier and the best protection against STIs.
  • Use only one condom at a time. Never use a male and female condom at the same time, or two male or two female condoms at the same time.

Some people are allergic to the latex in condoms. Signs of an allergy include burning, itching, or swelling after using a condom. If you or your partner thinks you are allergic, try non-latex condoms. Ask a nurse for help choosing the right ones.

A female condom is a pre-lubricated tube, with a ring at each end, and closed at one end. It collects sperm before, during, and after ejaculation.

Step 1

Check the expiry date, and open the package carefully.

Step 2

Consider adding more lubrication.

Step 3

Squeeze the ring at the closed end.

Step 4

Insert the condom into your vagina like a tampon.

Step 5

Put your finger inside the condom and push the ring up as far as it will go. Make sure the condom does not twist. The outer ring stays outside the vagina.

Step 6

During sex, guide the penis into the condom. Make sure the penis doesn’t slip between the condom and the vagina. Also, make sure the penis doesn’t push the condom into the vagina.

Step 7

After sex, remove the condom carefully. Twist the outer ring to keep the semen inside the condom and gently pull it out.

Step 8

Put the used condom in the garbage, not the toilet. Never re-use a condom.

Practice placing a condom in your vagina, before you use it for the first time during sex. Find a comfortable position that works for you—squatting, lying down, or standing with one foot on a chair. You can insert the condom up to eight hours before you have sex.

Tips for Using Male and Female Condoms

Condoms are only effective if you use them properly. Use these tips to make sure you don’t get pregnant and to protect you against STIs.

  • Store properly at room temperature, in a dry place and away from direct sunlight. Don’t let them freeze or get too hot.
  • Check the expiry date. Do not use expired condoms.
  • Put the condom on before genitals touch. Condoms are effective only if they form a barrier between genitals.
  • Use extra lube to help prevent them breaking and to make it easier to use them.
  • Use a condom only once. Throw it in the garbage right away after use—not in the toilet. Use a new condom for each sexual activity.
  • Use a condom every time. Unprotected sex puts you at risk for STIs and pregnancy. Condoms create a physical barrier and the best protection against STIs.
  • Use only one condom at a time. Never use a male and female condom at the same time, or two male or two female condoms at the same time.

Some people are allergic to the latex in condoms. Signs of an allergy include burning, itching, or swelling after using a condom. If you or your partner thinks you are allergic, try non-latex condoms. Ask a nurse for help choosing the right ones.

A dental dam can protect you against many STIs. It covers the vagina or anus during oral sex. Follow these easy instructions to make your own. You need a pair of scissors and a male condom.

Step 1

Check the expiry date on the condom.

Step 2

Use a pair of scissors to cut the bottom and tip off of the condom, making a square or rectangular shape.

Step 3

To use the dental dam, stretch it over the vulva or anus and hold it in place. You or your partner has to keep holding it tight, or it won’t work. Never re-use a dental dam or flip it over.