The best time for the condoms to be put on is after the penis is erect and before there is vaginal contact, says Streicher. Putting it too late is an easy way to pick up everything that is happening. If you try to put it on before you are erect, you will probably have trouble putting it on, the condom may not settle properly on your penis and may even interfere with your having a full erection.
Condom sizes vary. You can try different sizes of condoms to find the one that is best for you or your partner. A condom that fits well should roll to the base of the penis and feel more comfortable than tight. On the other hand, you should not feel too spacious and in danger of slipping during sex. Keep in mind that, just like when you buy clothes, you may need a different size on different brands of condoms. But don’t worry, condoms are very elastic, so you’ll find one that suits you. It is a myth that a penis may be too large for condoms. However, if you cannot find a male condom that feels comfortable during sex, you can try a female condom for vaginal or anal sex.
When used properly, male condoms are approximately 98% effective. This means that in one year, 2 out of every 100 women whose partners always use condoms correctly will get pregnant. That number increases to 18 out of 100 women whose partners do not use the condom correctly each time. Female condoms are approximately 95% effective when used properly. They only work 79% of the time if you don’t use them correctly.
Condoms also greatly reduce the risk of one person transmitting an STD to the other. The exact risk varies according to the type of disease. For example, condoms are almost 100% effective in protecting against HIV. But HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease, can infect areas that a male condom does not cover, such as the scrotum. They reduce the risk of HPV infection, but do not eliminate it.
You don’t have to go to the entire Inspector Gadget, but double check the expiration date and make sure the packaging is intact, says Laurie Bennett-Cook, a clinical sexologist in Los Angeles. There should be a small air mattress if you press the wrap and a feeling of sliding lubrication. And this little inspection doesn’t have to be unattractive. (A little awkward? Maybe, but this is just a conversation you must have to have a healthy sex life.) Checking the condom is especially important if you are supplying the equipment. (You never know, the condom could have been hidden in your wallet or in the glove compartment of your car for a year.) And when a condom is old or stored improperly, the latex breaks, which increases the risk of failure.