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Ways You're Using Condoms Wrong

Avoid common condom mistakes.

By: August McLaughlin

You've made the effort to be a responsible partner by stocking up on condoms — but are you using them right? Not everyone does. Poor use makes sex less safe and an unwanted pregnancy more likely. Luckily, condoms are simple to use effectively; start by reading the package prior to use and take steps to avoid common mistakes.

Timing It Wrong

If you try to don a condom before you have an erection, it won't go on as easily — or possibly at all. Wait until your penis is fully hard, then place it on. It's important to remove condoms at the right time as well: before your erection is gone. Otherwise, you're inviting leakage.

Poor Technique

Put a t-shirt on inside out and you may suffer some embarrassment. Similar mistakes with a condom can lead to far bigger problems. To make sure your condom does its job, avoid tears by opening it carefully with your fingers – not your teeth. Place the condom on by unrolling it directly onto your erect penis. Avoid rolling it out first to help keep it right-side out. You also want to leave some space at the tip, otherwise it could get uncomfortable or pop.

Forgetting to Look for Damage

Research conducted by the renowned Kinsey Institute showed that not checking condoms for visible damage is one of the most common condom mistakes. This can lead to semen spillage if you end up wearing one that's torn. After you've carefully opened a condom, take a few seconds to examine it for tears and holes before putting it on. If you spot any, swap it out for a new one.

Reusing It

Condoms are a one and done deal. They won't provide the same protection twice, so use a fresh one every time. This includes each use within the same day or night. If you accidentally put one on upside down or inside out, don't take it off, flip it over and keep using it — another fairly common fumble. Toss it out and grab a fresh one instead.

Storing It Wrong or For Too Long

Condoms may fit easily in your wallet, but that doesn't mean they should stay there. Just like foods and medications, condoms expire. Before using one, check the packaging to make sure you haven't passed the expiration date. Store condoms in a cool, dry place such as your underwear or desk drawer. If you place one in your wallet or glove compartment, make sure it's temporary — a few hours, versus weeks or months. When overheated, they lose their effectiveness.

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