What Are the Different Types of Condoms, and How Can One Use Them Properly?
A condom is a thin tube that is worn around the penis (external condom) or a pouch that is inserted into the vagina or anus (internal condom) before engaging in penetrative sexual activity to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and as a means of birth control. Some people also use condoms for oral sex.
While condoms greatly reduce the risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy when used correctly, they are not 100% effective. Because their effectiveness goes up with how well they are used, it is important to know how to use condoms correctly. Learn about the different types of condoms and how to use them properly below.
Types of Condoms
- Latex condoms are the most widely used. They help to prevent pregnancy and offer protection from STIs when used during oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Additionally, they can be used on sex toys and dildos.
- Plastic condoms (polyurethane or polyisoprene) also provide protection from STIs and unplanned pregnancies. They may be a good option for people who are sensitive or allergic to latex.
- Lambskin condoms are made from part of a lamb’s intestines. Some people believe that they have a more “natural” feel than latex or plastic condoms. They are useful for preventing pregnancy. However, lambskin condoms do not protect against STIs because the natural membrane has small openings that allow for the transmission of viruses.
- Novelty condoms, usually made out of latex, have features that may make sex more enjoyable. Some examples include lubricated condoms, flavored condoms, textured condoms (ribbed or studded), and extra-thin condoms.
How to Use an External Condom Correctly
- Carefully open the packaging and remove the condom.
- Determine which way the condom will roll down before placing it on the head of the erect penis. If the penis is uncircumcised, gently pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom.
- Pinch any excess air out of the tip of the condom.
- Unroll the condom down the shaft of the penis. It should cover the entire shaft. (There are different sizes of condoms available if the standard size does not fit correctly).
- Keep the condom on for the entirety of the penetrative sexual activity.
- After sex, hold the base of the condom while pulling out to keep it in place.
- Take off the condom and throw it away. You should never reuse a condom.
How to Use an Internal Condom Correctly
- Carefully remove the condom from the packaging.
- Examine the condom for any tears or defects. Once you determine there are none, identify the side of the condom that is closed with the thick, inner ring. This is the side that will be inserted into the vagina or anus.
- In a comfortable position (e.g., squatting or standing with one foot resting on a raised surface), pinch the sides of the inner ring at the closed end of the condom together.
- Insert the condom (pinched end first) into the vagina or anus. Vaginal insertion of an internal condom has been compared to inserting a tampon.
- Push the condom in as far as it will go. The outer, open ring will remain outside of the body.
- Make sure that the condom is not twisted. Guide your partner’s penis into the opening of the internal condom.
- Keep the condom in for the entirety of penetration, from start to finish.
- When finished, gently twist the outer ring of the condom before pulling it out.
- Throw the condom away in the trash. You should never reuse a condom.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021, June 2). Condom Effectiveness. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/index.html.
- Medically reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD. (2020, December 15). Condoms. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-condoms.