Male Condoms

A condom is a latex sheath that should be worn over the penis before genital contact (including oral sex). It prevents pregnancy and Sexually Acquired Infections.

When using condoms, it is important to:

  • Use good quality
  • Avoid chemical or physical damage
  •  Do not use with an oil-based lubricant e.g. Vaseline
  • Put condom on penis before genital contact and withdraw penis after ejaculation.
  • Take care to avoid spillage whilst withdrawing, by holding the base of the condom
  • Use each condom only once

Good quality condoms must conform to the British Standards Institution specification (BS 3704 1989) and good quality condoms sold in the European Community must conform to the new single European condom standard. Only condoms carrying the BSI kitemark and the European Standard Logo, also known as the  European CE mark ensure they comply with and have met recognised quality standards and reliability criteria. Therefore you are encouraged to check that the condom has the BSI kitemark and CE logo, and that the packet has not expired!

Some people may be allergic to condoms, although this is rare. In this case, non-latex condoms (e.g. Avanti, which are commonly found in pharmacies) should be used.

How to put on a condom:





  • Under the control of the couple
  • No systemic effects
  • Easily available
  • Protection against most Sexually Acquired Infections, including HIV
  • May protect against cervical cancer



  • Perceived as messy
  • Perceived as interrupting sexual intercourse
  • Requires forward planning
  • Loss of sensitivity
  • Cannot be used in conjunction with oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly



  • Allergy to latex or spermicide
  • Erectile problems such as failure to maintain an erection


Problems with condom use

A condom may bursts or splits because you may have either put the condom on inside out, or not expelled any air, or because the condom has come into contact with a fat-soluble product, such as petroleum jelly or baby oil which causes the condom to break. Various substances and preparations, including all oil-based products, affect the efficacy of the condom. These include intra-vaginal medications for fungal (such as thrush) or other infections.

 Other common condom failures are due to condoms being torn while opening the aluminium packet or while being put on with ragged finger nails and jewellery. Thus, whilst opening the condom packet, the condom ought to be pushed out of the way by squeezing it to the side to avoid tearing it. The condom packet should then be squeezed helping the condom to slip out, and not pulled out using the finger nails. The condom packet should not be opened with one's teeth or scissors in case the inside condom gets damaged. If a condom is ripped whilst it is being applied due to ragged nails or rings, a new condom must be applied at all times.

Another common mishap is condoms slipping off inside the vagina following loss of erection after sexual intercourse. Condoms slip off during intercourse or remain in the inside of the vagina when the penis is removed following intercourse because the man loses his erection and fails to hold onto the condom when he removes his penis from the vagina, leaving the condom inside the vagina. The condom can also easily slip off when applied inside out. Thus a condom should be applied before the penis comes into contact with the vulva. The condom should be placed on the erect penis and unrolled carefully along the whole length of it. Using the other hand, the person using it should squeeze the condom at the head of the penis to expel any air. Once ejaculation has taken place the penis should be withdrawn holding the condom onto the base of the penis to ensure that it is not left in the vagina

Some couples find difficulty applying the condom, complaining that it’s either too small or too big. Many men and women also stop using condoms because of complaints of loss of sensitivity. It is believed that one reason why men complain of loss of sensitivity with condoms is because they find them too tight. Few people know that condoms come in different sizes, and can be bought to accommodate different sizes of penis. All condoms are able to expand so should not be too small. Furthermore, flared condoms are more suitable for men who complain that the condom is too small, and thus may help alleviate the problem of condom tightness. Contoured condoms are more suitable for men who find condoms too big. There are also extra large sized and small sized condoms.

Condoms however can increase enjoyment by “giving permission” to the couple to touch and explore the penis. They can also use the condom as part of a safe form of foreplay by applying it together, creating equality in the relationship. This can give couples the opportunity to talk about their sexual needs and desires.