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Negotiating for Condom Use

February 2011

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Better Use of Condoms

While it's natural to worry about whether a condom can break, the good news is that 98 out of every 100 times a condom is used, the condoms hold up just fine. On the few occasions when they do break or slip, it's not because of the brand, cost, or quality of the condom, but rather, because it wasn't put on correctly. So the key with condom use is practice, practice, practice. Other things that will help are keeping them out of heat and sunlight and not keeping unused condoms around for too long.

It's also best not to use lubricants that are made with oils, such as petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, hair oils, body lotion, and cooking oils. These oils can weaken the latex of the condom and cause the condom to break. Lubricants that are water-based or silicone-based are less likely to cause the condom to break, and are a safer option.

It's also best to stick with condoms made from either latex or polyurethane, which keep out viruses and bacteria. Other types of condoms, such as those made from lambskin, should be avoided- these don't protect against HIV and other STDs as well.

Using Condoms Correctly

There are a few simple tips to follow when using condoms:

  • Use a new condom each and every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Once the penis is hard, put the condom on the tip of the penis, with the rolled side out
  • Many condoms have a small reservoir or pouch at the top to collect semen. If it doesn't pinch the top of the condom with your thumb and fingertip, leaving a half-inch space for the semen.
  • After ejaculation, but before the penis gets soft, remove the condom, being sure not to spill out any of the fluid that collected at the tip
  • Wrap the condom carefully in tissue, and discard it safely where others won't be able to get to it
  • If the condom breaks at any point, have your partner come out immediately, remove the condom, and put on a new one

Taking Care of Yourself

Safer sex is an ongoing process that varies based on your experience and your partner. The goal should always be to use condoms whether you are HIV+ or HIV-negative. Here are some ideas on how you can keep the conversation about condom use going:

  • Think of how you would ask someone to use a condom. Practice some of the lines on your own or with friends, so you'll be ready to use them when the time comes.
  • Carry a condom and a dental dam with you, so you'll be ready for any unexpected sexual situation
  • Practice putting on and taking off a male condom. Perhaps use a banana, or vibrator.
  • Get some female condoms and try them on. They allow you to initiate condom use. Plus, they're a good option if your partner complains about male condoms being uncomfortable or restraining.
  • Read up on the topic on the internet or in magazines

It is always difficult to talk about things like safer sex, especially when you are just getting to know someone. You may be worried that you will lose your partner or potential partner. But keeping yourself and your partner safe has to be your top priority. Even if you have trouble at first asking for what you need, don't give up. Put yourself and safety first. Remember, you have the right to ask for condom use!

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
Ten Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Condom Basics
More on Condoms and Dams

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