Safe Sex Fact Sheet

If you are sexually active and are not ready to become a parent, it is important to use birth control to protect yourself from pregnancy.

It is also important to reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.

Condoms are the only birth control that reduces your risk of both pregnancy and STDs, including HIV. But, in order to work, condoms must be used correctly and must be used every time you have sex. It’s important to know, however, that they cannot completely protect you and your partner from some STDs, like herpes, syphilis, or human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. Also, condoms can break, slip, or leak, especially if they are not put on and taken off properly.

The only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is NOT to have sex.

If you do have sex, use dual protection

Always use a condom. Even if you or your partner is using another type of birth control, agree to use a condom every time you have sex, to reduce the risk to both of you for HIV and most other STDs.

Use a condom, plus one of these additional methods of protection:

  • Birth Control Pill

  • Patch

  • Ring

  • Implant

  • Injection

  • IUD

How do you put on a condom correctly?

  • Step 1

    When you are opening the package, gently tear it on the 1 side. Do not use your teeth or scissors because you might rip the condom that’s inside. Pull the condom out of the package slowly so that it doesn’t tear.

  • Step 2

    Put the rolled up condom over the head of the penis when it is hard.

  • Step 3

    Pinch the tip of the condom enough to leave a half-inch space for semen to collect.

  • Step 4

    Holding the tip of the condom, unroll it all the way down to the base of the penis.

When the condom is on, it should feel snug enough so that it won’t fall off during sex, but not too tight.

  • If you accidentally put on a condom inside-out, throw it away and get a new one. You can tell a condom is inside-out if it won’t roll down the length of the penis easily.
  • If the condom ever tears or rips when you are putting it on or when it’s being used, throw it away and use a new one.

How do you take off a condom correctly?

The most common mistake is not using condoms from the beginning of sexual contact to the very end, after ejaculation. Immediately after ejaculation, hold the bottom of the condom so it stays on and semen cannot spill out. Then, carefully withdraw the penis while it is still hard. Once the penis is out, you can remove the condom, wrap it in tissue, and throw it in the trash. Do not flush it down the toilet because it might clog.

  • DOs

    • Read all the information on the package. Know what you are using. Check the expiration date on the package. If it is expired, get a new package of condoms and throw away the old ones.
    • Use only condoms that are made of latex or polyurethane (plastic). Latex condoms and polyurethane condoms are the best types of condoms to use to help prevent pregnancy, STDs, and HIV.
    • Use a pre-lubricated condom to help prevent it from tearing. If you only have a non-lubricated condom, put a little bit of water-based lubricant (“lube”) inside and outside the condom.
    • Condoms come in different sizes, colors, textures, and thicknesses.
    • Talk with your partner and choose condoms both of you like.
  • DON’Ts

    • Do not use two condoms at once.
    • Do not use condoms made of animal skin, sometimes called “natural” condoms. Animal skin condoms can help prevent pregnancy but don’t work as well as latex or polyurethane condoms to prevent STDs, including HIV.
    • Do not keep condoms in a place that can get very hot, like in a car. If you keep a condom in your wallet or purse, be sure you replace it with a new one regularly.
    • Do not use any kind of oil-based lubricants (like petroleum jellies, lotions, mineral oil, or vegetable oils). These can negatively affect the latex, making it more likely to rip or tear.
    • Do not reuse condoms.
    • Do not use condoms that are torn or outdated.

What if the condom breaks?

If you feel the condom break at any point before or during sex: Stop immediately! Withdraw. Carefully remove the broken condom and put on a new one.

If the condom breaks, pregnancy can be prevented with emergency contraception. Emergency contraception (the “Morning-After Pill”) works best when it’s started as soon as possible after sex, but can be started up to 5 days after sex.

Remember: Emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy, but it does NOT protect against STDs.

For more information please visit www.cdc.gov