How to put on a condom

Hello, I'm Jay, a sex-positive fellow from Nova Scotia. Today I'd like to respond to some queries Indulgence has received recently about the best ways to put on a condom. Or, more specifically, how best to help your partner put on a condom.

At first, readers experienced in condom manipulation might think the process is relatively straight forward. A condom is a tube that slides on over a shaft, so the overall concept is fairly simple. However, the difficulty lies in the details of the process. There are some tricky steps to navigate when donning a condom and the task becomes all the more daunting if you don't have a penis of your own with which to practise. Let's explore some tips on how to prepare and put on a condom.

Be prepared

The first step in using condoms is to make sure you have one, and that it's in good condition. This may seem obvious, but people often find themselves caught up in a hot, steamy moment and realize neither person brought a condom with them. So Step One is to get condoms and make sure you take them with you on dates.

I like to be prepared!

The next thing to keep in mind is condoms are fragile things and don't handle heat well. It's not a good idea to store condoms for long periods of time in hot cars, wallets you keep in your pocket, or above a bathroom heater. Try to keep your condoms in cool, dark places like a bedside table, purse, or medicine cabinet.

Condoms break down over time, so even if you do store them in a cool, dark place, remember to change them out occasionally. Don't carry a condom in your wallet for more than a week or two. Throw out the old one and replace it. Also, check the expiry date of the condoms you are using. It's usually printed on the box or on the wrapper. Condoms are something you really do not want to have break or breakdown, so replace any expired packets.

Remember, this is the alternative.

Most condoms are made of latex. This is fine for most people, but some folks have skin which is sensitive (or allergic) to latex. Drug stores and adult toy stores typically stock condoms which are made of alternative materials.

Getting the condom into position

Condoms should be placed over the penis before any penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, or oral). The condom's job isn't just to catch ejaculate from an orgasm, but also to help prevent sexually transmitted infections. To do its job properly it needs to be in place before penetration, not just at the tail end of sex.

Condoms typically come in small, square wrappers that can be torn at the corner to free the condom. Leave the condom inside the wrapper until the moment you need it (you don't ant it to dry out after it has been taken out of the packet).

Pro tip: Condom wrappers are dastardly difficult to open with slippery fingers. You're not going to want to have lubrication or other fluids on your hands when you try to open them. Since foreplay has a tendency to make things slick, keep a cloth or tissues on hand to wipe your fingers before opening the condom packet. Also, don't eat spicy food right before handling a condom, the spice can transfer and we don't want that.
We really don't want that.

Once you have the condom in your hand, look for a small bulge or pocket on the tip of the condom. A flat condom looks pretty much the same from either side and it's not going to fit properly if you put it on upside-down. Most condoms have a little bubble on the end, which should be pointing up on the "top/outside" of the condom.

If you do start to put on the condom and find it's not fitting well due to being upside-down, it's a good idea to throw it away and start fresh with a new one. The whole point of the condom is to act as a barrier between partners. If you try putting it on one way and then remove and flip it, anything that was on the head of the penis is being transferred to the "new" outside of the flipped condom and it removes much of the protection the condom normally offers.

Roll rather than tug

At this point you should have the condom in your hands, you've found the bubble-like tip, and you've got it right-side up. At this point you'll want to pinch the tip of the condom to squeeze out the air. Then place the condom on top of the erect penis, as close to centred as you can. Then continue to pinch the bubble at the tip with one hand while you use the other hand to brush the base of the condom down your partner's penis.

The condom starts out rolled up and the edge of the condom should unroll as you push down on its sides. The condom basically unrolls down over the penis.
Like this.

Pro tip: Don't tug the edges of the condom down. You're not trying to pull it over the penis the way you'd pull on a glove or stubborn sock. The condom won't stretch to cover the penis, it needs to be slowly unrolled down over the sides.

Once the edges of the condom reach the base of the penis it should be snuggly in place and not slide around. Run your hand over it to make sure it doesn't show signs of popping back off. If the condom is loose or keeps rolling up, if usually means the condom is on upside-down and is likely to pop off during sex, so this is a good time to start over.

Another pro tip: Most average size condoms will fit over anything from a broomhandle to a boot. If someone tells you condoms don't fit on them, chances are they are either lying or won't fit inside you either. In both cases it's a sign you should put a pause on your steamy activities.
Condoms can fit over just about anything!

Yet another pro tip: Do not try to put a condom on a penis if it's not erect. The penis won't "grow into" the condom properly and your protective barrier will likely remain loose and ineffective. Make sure the penis is erect before you roll the condom on it. If the penis loses its potency, then it's a good idea to replace the condom before sex resumes.

Once the condom is on you may wish to apply a few drops of water-based lubrication to the outside of the condom to ease penetration. some condoms come packaged with their own lubrication, but it can feel better to use them with a few drops extra.


Let's assume you got the condom on without any problems. It rolled on, it stayed on comfortably during sex. Then awesome sex occurred and now it's time to remove your helpful condom.

After climax, the penis tends to shrink, making the condom loose. This means it's likely to leak at the base and/or slide off if it remains inside you once your partner has reached orgasm. So, after climax occurs, reach down and wrap your finger and thumb in a circle around the base of the condom. This holds it in place and avoids having it slip off. Pressing the condom into place around the penis shaft, slowly withdraw the penis from you while keeping the condom on.
Hold the condom firmly, yet lightly, like a golf club.

Once you and your partner have disentangles from each other, then you can slide the base of the condom up and off the shaft. Try to keep the tip of the condom pointed down toward the floor and the open-ended base up. This prevents the contents from spilling. Tie the end of the condom with a simple knot, like a balloon, and throw it in the garbage. Don't try to flush the condom down the toilet as it's likely to clog the plumbing.

Condoms are meant to be single-use. Don't try to reuse a condom. Always throw a used one away and get another if you want to continue your sexcapades.

What if something goes wrong?

Condoms are typically a good and reliable method for protecting against accidental pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. They're great little, circular devices. However, they are not completely bulletproof. Eventually, if you keep using them, you'll run into situations where the condom tears, pops, or slides off. It doesn't happen often, but it can happen, especially if not enough lube has been used or the condom was put on upside-down.

If the condom breaks or slides off then stop sex immediately and tell your partner. It's important they be made aware of the fact right away so you can pause and possibly try again with a new condom.

If a condom comes off while inside you (or, if you're wearing the condom, inside your partner), try not to move around much. They tend not to go far and can usually be retrieved by slowly inserting two fingers, finding the hard edge of the condom, pinching it between your fingertips, and slowly tugging it out.

After a condom comes off during sex, I recommend visiting your doctor or a health clinic within 48 hours to seek contraceptive options, such as "morning after" birth control, and an STI test. These can mitigate any possible negative side-effects from the faulty condom.

To help make things go right...

To avoid any awkwardness in the moment, I recommend buying a box of condoms and practising with them. Ask your partner to join you for a practise session or buy some bananas (or find a thumb-sized shaft like a broom handle). Then practise a few times tearing the condom packages, finding the up-side, and rolling the condom into place.
Have fun with the practise sessions, invite friends!

For bonus points, put a little water in the condom and practise removing it and see if you can do it without dripping the water out of the condom. This may sound silly, but practising with condoms ahead of time can really help make you feel more comfortable with them. It's not fun to be fumbling in the dark, trying to guess by feel which way the condom should roll on in the heat of the moment. Having a half-dozen practise sessions ahead of time will make you feel more confident and reduce the amount of time it takes to get the condom on when you're with your partner.