8.2.3  How to use a male condom

In this section, you will learn how a male condom is used. Table 8.1 shows you the basic steps. You can learn how to demonstrate it using wooden models or toys. You need to practise it on your own, or aided by your mentor, so that you can demonstrate it to any client in your community. Eventually, you will need to ask your client to demonstrate it back to check that the process has been understood.

Table 8.1 Five basic steps when using a male condom. (Source: Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers, WHO, 2007, p.203)

1  Use a new condom for each sex act. Check the condom package. Do not use the condom if it is torn or damaged. Avoid using an expired condom. Do so only if a newer condom is not available. Tear and open the package carefully. Do not use fingernails, teeth, or anything that can damage the condom.
A condom being removed from the wrapper.
2  Before any physical contact, place the condom on the tip of the erect penis with the rolled side out.For the best protection, put the condom on before the penis makes any genital contact.
A condom being placed over the tip of the penis.
3  Unroll the condom all the way to the base of the erect penis.The condom should unroll easily. Forcing it on could cause it to break during use. If the condom does not unroll easily, it may be on backwards, be damaged, or be too old. Throw it away and use a new condom. If the condom is on backwards and another one is not available, turn it over and unroll it onto the penis.
A condom is unrolled over the shaft of the penis.
4  Immediately after ejaculation, hold the rim of the condom in place and withdraw the penis while it is still erect.Withdraw the penis. Slide the condom off, avoiding spilling semen. If having sex again, use a new condom.
A condom is removed from the penis.
5  Dispose of the used condom safely.Wrap the condom in its packaging and put it in the rubbish or latrine. Keep it away from the reach of children.
A condom is disposed of in a rubbish bin.

Condom failure

Condoms are used around the world by unmarried and married couples. All users are not equally expert in handling condoms. Therefore, do not assume that the client knows how to correctly use a condom, regardless of past experience. There is always a chance that male condoms could break or slip during sex. The most common causes of condom failure are breakage and slipping. To prevent a condom from breaking due to dryness, the user has to make sure there is enough lubrication from natural secretions, or use a water-based lubricant. A water-based lubricant is a jelly-like lubricant made of water, e.g. KY jelly. Oil-based lubricants can cause condoms to break.

To keep a condom from slipping off, the user should be certain that the rim stays near the base of the penis during intercourse. This is especially important at the end of intercourse as the penis is withdrawn. See Box 8.1 for mistakes commonly made by condom users, and what important messages to tell your clients about handling condoms.

Box 8.1  Common mistakes and important messages for condom users

The five most common mistakes are:

  1. Not having a condom when needed.
  2. Starting intercourse without a condom on the penis, then interrupting intercourse to put on the condom (or deciding not to use the condom at all).
  3. Tearing the condom with a fingernail.
  4. Not holding the rim of the condom when withdrawing the penis from the vagina, causing condom slippage and leakage.
  5. Forgetting to use the condom altogether.


Clients need to be informed that:

  1. They should not use two condoms at once. Placing two male condoms on a penis can raise the chance of tearing.
  2. Used condoms should be thrown away after each sex act.
  3. Male condoms and female condoms should not be used at the same time.
  4. The condom must be used from ‘start to finish’ with every act of intercourse.

8.2.2  Effectiveness

8.2.4  Advantages and disadvantages of male condoms