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Safer Is Sexy: Ways to Use a Condom

Love is definitely in the air as 

we celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Besides the day of hearts, we observe another important occasion that reminds us that safer is sexy: International Condom Day (ICD), held on February 13, which kicks off Condom Week (until February 21).

This might be an informal holiday, yet it’s important as it encourages people, especially young adults, to practice safe sex. The message of this year’s campaign, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is to “play safe and proclaim that #SAFERisSEXY.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), condoms offer one of the most effective methods of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, when used correctly and consistently. 

Just how do you know that you’re using a condom right?

  • When you get the right size. When a condom is too big, it creates too much friction, causing it to break. The other scenario? Too big and there will be a leak. The worst one? Too loose and it may come off.

  • When you don’t store it in your wallet. If you think having a condom in your wallet is a good emergency option, think again. Condoms that are put inside a wallet are subjected to friction, heat, and pressure, making their latex weaker. Store them in a cool, dry place.

  • When you throw an old condom away. Because latex becomes brittle as it ages, even if it’s stored properly. So how do you know if a condom can be used? First, check its expiration date. And second, check if it is sticky, brittle, or dried out. If yes, use a new one

  • When you don’t open it with your teeth. Even if you’re in a hurry or wanting to look cool or sexy, latex is a material that can be damaged by teeth, enough to cause small punctures that can soon lead to a break.

  • When you put it right. And that includes unrolling it the right way (not inside out), making sure the end of the condom has space for semen to go, and squeezing out the air to remove bubbles that can cause friction

  • When you fix a fail. Just as putting it on in the right way, there might be some slip ups and the best thing to do is to throw that condom away and use a new one.

  • When you use the right lube. Condoms are pre-lubricated, but many people use lubricants to make them slippier. Latex doesn’t go well with available substances at home, like petroleum jelly, oil, or lotion, which weaken the material and make it break easier. Go for water-based lubricants.

  • When you put it on before sex. Because condoms physically keep people’s parts from touching, a side effect is they reduce pleasure and sensation. But remember: that unprotected contact increases the risk of STI transmission or pregnancy.

  • When you take it off right. Removing it too late, especially immediately after ejaculation when the penis becomes less erect, can go from tight to baggy. This can cause the semen to leak out of the rubber

  • When you don’t reuse a condom. This is just the worst and most unsafe action but there are people who still do it! Even if a condom is thoroughly cleaned, its material would be weakened and therefore making it likely to break easily. Use a condom correctly once, and then wrap it up and throw it away properly.

Besides the use of a condom, the WHO also promotes counseling and behavioral interventions that offer primary prevention against STIs, as well as against unintended pregnancies. These include:

  • Comprehensive sexuality education, STI and HIV pre- and post-test counseling;

  • Safer sex/risk-reduction counseling, condom promotion;

  • Interventions targeted at key populations, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs; and

  • Education and counseling tailored to the needs of adolescents.