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How to Use an External Condom

What you need to know about how to use an External Condom.

Condoms can be tricky to use at first, but they get easier with practice. Before you need to use one, maybe practice a few times so that things will go smoothly when you need it most. Here’s a step-by-step guide for using an external condom (like you’d put on a penis* or sex toy).

For more info on condoms, see our pages on The External Condom and The Internal Condom.

1. check the expiry date and feel for air

If a condom is expired, it’s less likely to be effective. Press on the condom package to make sure there’s still air inside. Air inside means the condom packaging hasn’t been damaged.

2. open the condom package

Squeeze the condom to the bottom of the package, and tear the package across the top with your fingers. Practice doing this so that you don’t tear the condom.

Note: Opening the condom package with your nails, teeth, or other sharp objects (eg, scissors) can break it.

3. check the rolling direction of the rim

A condom goes onto a penis or toy like a toque—it should roll down smoothly from the top. You shouldn’t have to reach underneath a condom to unroll and pull it on.

If the condom tip is facing the wrong way, blow into the tip to turn the condom right side out. If the condom is difficult to unroll, throw it out and use a new one.

4. adding lube (optional)

Lube (lubricant) can help increase pleasure and prevent condoms breaking. You can add lube to the outside of the condom or to the outside of the vulva, vagina, or anus. Only use water-based lube with condoms Other types of lube can break down the latex in the condoms, lowering how effective they are.

Note: Lube is important for anal sex because the anus doesn’t lubricate itself.

5. unrolling the condom on

If it’s going on a penis, pinch the tip of the condom with one hand to leave room for ejaculate (cum). This also helps cut down on air bubbles, which can cause a condom to break. With the other hand, roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis. If the penis has foreskin, gently pull it back before unrolling the condom. If the penis has foreskin, adding lube to the inside of the condom can also increase pleasure.

If the condom is going on a toy, just place it on the tip of the toy and roll the condom all the way down to the base.

6. squeeze out extra air

Pinch the tip again and use your other hand to run down the length of the penis or toy. This should push out any remaining air. You may want to add more lube to the outside of the condom for more pleasure.

7. remove the condom and tie it up

With a penis: To avoid slippage, pull out while the penis is still hard and hold onto the base of condom. Then remove the condom (by rolling or pulling) and tie it into a knot like a balloon. Try to remove the condom away from your partner’s genitals or anus.

With a toy: If you are using a condom on a toy you do not need to tie it in a knot after you remove it.

8. throw away the condom

When you are finished with it, place the condom in the trash. Don’t flush condoms down the toilet. They will clog pipes.

Use a new external condom for every sex act. Do not reuse condoms. Do not use the same external condom for oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Download Teen Health Source’s guide on how to use external condoms: How To: External Condoms


*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.

Art by Victor Martins