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Condoms and Sex Dams

Did you know that barriers (like condoms) are the only way to protect yourself and a partner from STIs including HIV? If used correctly, they are 95-97% effective. Pretty cool, hey?

But condoms (like the kind that go over a penis) are just one type of barrier method. There are also “female” condoms, sex dams, gloves, and finger condoms (cots). In other words, there are barriers for every type of sex.

Most barriers are made out of a type of rubber called latex. However, some people have latex allergies so there are also non-latex options made of polyurethane (a type of plastic). If you are fortunate enough to live close by a teen clinic you can get condoms for free! Some health centres and nursing stations will also give out condoms for free, but it depends on where you live. Gloves and sex dams are sometimes available from teen clinics or health centres (or usually from Rainbow Resource Centre), otherwise you can get most barrier methods from drug stores. 

Types of condoms

There are a few different types of condoms…

  • Non-lubricated: (dry, no slippery stuff): Can be used for mouth on penis oral sex, or made into a sex dam. Lube can always be added to dry condoms if people want to use them for vaginal or anal sex. Always make sure that the lube you are using is water-based or that it says that it’s okay to use with a condom. Anything oil-based will break down a condom so using vaseline, butter, and lotion are not recommended!
  • Lubricated: (feels slippery): Used on a penis/sex toy for vaginal or anal sex.
  • Flavoured: Used for different types of sex even though vaginas and anuses don’t have tastebuds.
  • Lubricated with Spermicide (Nonoxynol-9): Used for penis and vagina sex, because spermicide kills sperm and its main purpose is to prevent pregnancy. These are not commonly used these days and may be difficult to find. 
  • Polyurethane: Not made out of latex and can be used by people whom are allergic to latex!

How to put on a Condom

Before using a condom, make sure to check the package for:

  • Rips/Tears/Holes-If it’s damaged, don’t use it!
  • Expiry Date-All condoms have an expiry date because the rubber they are made of will eventually break down. Often the expiry date is written on the back of the package and on female condoms it is written in the back flap. If it’s expired, don’t use it!
  • Guarantee on the back of the condom that says it will help to prevent unwanted pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
  • Is it the right type of condom for you? Check to see if the condom is lubricated or not, if it’s made of latex, what flavor it is, etc!

putting on a condom

Step by Step:

Step 1: Open the condom as you would a ketchup package along the ridged edges with your hands.

Step 2: Take out the condom. The condom usually comes out the wrong way or inside out! You’ll know if it’s the wrong way because the ring will be on the inside and it kind of looks like the top of a baby bottle. To get it to flip the right way you can just blow in it lightly. You’ll know it’s the right way because the ring is now on the outside and you will be able to roll it down once quite easily. You may also notice that it kind of looks like a hat. (A hat to protect you!)

If you put the condom on the penis the wrong way, it is NOT okay to just flip it inside out and keep using it. This is because anytime a penis is hard there will be pre-cum on it which contains sperm as well as an STI if that person has one. So if you put the condom on the wrong way and then flip it over, then the pre-cum will be on the outside of the condom getting a free ride into your partner! If a condom is put on the wrong way, it should be thrown away and a new one should be used. (That’s why it’s a good idea to have more than one condom around!)

Step 3: Using your thumb, pointer and middle finger, pinch a whole inch on of the top of that condom before putting it on the penis to leave room for the cum to go!

Step 4: While still pinching that inch with one hand, use your other hand to roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis/sex toy. If the penis has foreskin, you may need to pull the foreskin down and then roll the condom down.

Step 5: Make sure the condom is rolled all the way to the base of the penis (all the way to the ‘balls’ or testicles, but NOT over them!). Make sure to check during sex to see that it hasn’t rolled up the penis.

Step 6: When sex is done, hold onto the base of the condom and penis, remove the penis from your partner and turn to the side to take it off. If a condom has cum in it and it is taken off on top of your partner and it gets on their genitals then it could cause a splash STI or a splash pregnancy.

The final step is to throw the condom in the garbage, not a toliet!

Female Condoms
Female condoms are made out of polyurethane and are safe to use if someone is allergic to latex.

This type of condom can be put in up to 8 hours before sex happens! This gives a woman more control in making sure a condom is used. She can put one in hours before and be ready if she thinks sex might be happening later.

Since the female condom hangs outside of the vagina a bit, it protects the outer area more from STIs that are spread from skin to skin contact (such as herpes or genital warts).

They can cost about 3 for $12 in a store/pharmacy. They are free at some Teen Clinics and Health Centres, but we would advise calling ahead to ask before going.

insert female condom

How to put it in/ take it out! Step by Step:

Step 1: Get into a position that is most comfortable for you and take the condom out of the package.
Step 2: Grasp the ring inside the condom and squeeze it between your two fingers.
Step 3: While squeezing the ring, insert it into the vagina and push it further in with your fingers back to the cervix. The inner ring will sit by the cervix and keep the condom in place.
Step 4: The opening of the condom will hang out of the vagina a bit. Insert your fingers inside and straighten it out in case it is twisted in there.
Step 5: During sexy time, make sure the penis/sex toy is going inside the condom and not beside the condom in the vagina.
Step 6: When sex is over, twist the outside of the condom clockwise to close (so no fluids spill out) and then pull it out of the vagina.
Step 7: Throw it in the garbage!

Sex Dams

Things to know:

  • Sex dams can be used for oral sex (mouth) on vagina, anus or testicles.
  • They help to protect from getting or passing STIs.
  • It is a rectangular sheet of latex that acts as a barrier between your mouth and the other person’s body part.
  • You can make them out of condoms!


Sex Dam

How to make one- Step by Step:

With Scissors:

Step 1: Get a condom without spermicide.

Step 2: Cut the tip off the condom.

Step 3: Cut through the side of the condom.

Step 4: Open it up into a rectangular square and you have your very own sex dam!

With your hands:

Step 1: Get a non-lubricated/flavored condom.

Step 2: Unroll the condom all the way down.

Step 3: Tear the ring off the condom using your nails or teeth.

Step 4: Tear the condom down the side, but stop tearing right before the tip!

Step 5: You should now have a rectangular sheet of latex to use!


How to use a Sex Dam

The dam can be gently held in place by the person receiving the oral sex or the person giving it. If the dam is flipped over, twisted or dropped on the floor, do not try to figure out which side was which!

The point is to keep your fluids on one side and your partner’s fluids on the other side, so if they mix or it is dropped just make a new one and keep going. It may be helpful to make a couple of them before you start so you have them on hand if you need more.

Adding some lube in the inside of the dam that’s going to be touching the person’s who is receiving can make it more pleasurable.

Questions About Condoms and Other Barriers

What is a condom?
Great question! A condom is used make vaginal, anal, and oral sex safer by preventing STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and HIV. Using a condom for vaginal sex also prevents pregnancy. Anyone can wear a condom, either on a penis, or by using an internal or Female Condom that goes inside a vagina. Most condoms are made with latex, but if someone has a latex allergy, there are latex free condoms as well (including the female condom). Teen clinics will have free condoms, but they can also be purchased at drug stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, etc.
How do you use condoms?

putting on a condom

Using a condom is easy, all it takes is a little practice. Here are some simple instructions for putting a condom on a penis (or sex toy), or check out the `Female Condom` section above for how to use an internal or female condom.

First, check the condom package to make sure it’s not expired (all condoms will expire someday). You should be able to see, “protects against pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections” on the package. When you are ready to use a condom, open the package (just like you would with a pack of ketchup) and take the condom out of the package. Check that it’s got the rolled up ring part on the outside and pinch the tip of the condom. Pinching the tip creates space for the ejaculate (or cum) – make sure to pinch an inch! Hold the pinch with one hand and roll the condom all the way down on an erect penis. Voila!

Put the condom on (or in, if using an internal or Female Condom) before the genitals start touching. This is because there can be sex fluids even before ejaculation happens. Pre-ejaculate (also called pre-cum) shows up as soon as someone gets an erection. It has sperm in it, as well as any STIs or HIV if someone already has them. After someone ejaculates, hold the base of the condom on the penis and pull out (so you don’t spill any semen). Throw the condom in the garbage.


Get free condoms at a teen clinic, and use a new condom each time you have sex. And remember that wearing one condom at a time is always safer than trying to wear two at once.

If I’m allergic to latex, what can I use so I don’t get pregnant or STIs?
If someone has a latex allergy there are non-latex condoms available. Look for non-latex condoms at any drug store, pharmacy, grocery store, etc. Most condom brands have a non-latex style, and the Female Condom is made out of polyurethane (a type of plastic). Non-latex condoms still protect against pregnancy, HIV and STIs if used correctly.
How would you know if the condom breaks?
Good question! Condoms are really effective at preventing pregnancy and STI/HIV if they are used correctly, but they can’t work if they break during sex. It can be hard to tell if a condom has broken, often people only notice when sex is over. Sometimes a condom breaks if it’s put on incorrectly and there’s not enough room at the tip or an air bubble at the tip. A condom could also break because of too much friction or dryness. Putting a condom on properly is really important, especially pinching the tip. Pinch the tip of the condom about the width of two fingers, or about an inch before rolling it down. The extra room at the tip is for the semen (or cum) to go. Hold on to the pinch with one hand while putting the condom on with the other hand. If air is left in the tip of the condom it could also break during sex. Having enough lubrication can also help prevent damage to condoms. Many people add water based lubrication to condoms to reduce friction (some teen clinics have free packages of lube). Oil products damage latex, so make sure that any lube added to a latex condom does’t have any oil products in it.
I heard that condoms don’t work if they were in a wallet – is that true?
For condoms to work properly they have to be stored properly. They should be kept in a dry place with moderate temperatures. If condoms are kept in a wallet they could be squished or torn. Also, some people keep their wallets in their back pocket, which increases the temperature of the condom, and could cause the latex to break down or deteriorate. It is best to keep condoms in a desk, drawer, school locker, bag, or purse, where they will have some space and will not get too hot.
How do I ask my partner if they know how to use a condom right?
Good question! It’s good that using a condom correctly is important to you. The best advice we can give is to become an expert at using a condom correctly, that way you will be able to help your partner. There are instructions for how to put a condom on here. As for how to have this talk with your partner, it’s usually best to be yourself and ask in a respectful way.

Some ideas are:

  • Asking if they’ve ever seen a condom demo from Teen Talk, and use that as a way of bringing up the topic.
  • You could tell them about Teen Talk showing you a condom demo, and show your partner how we did it. You could even challenge them to a competition on a banana (or other veggie) for fun!
  • Talking to your partner about your concerns, like STIs (and pregnancy if you’re having penis – vagina sex) and explain that you want to be sure you are both protected. Both of you could go to Teen Talk’s website and read how it is done.
  • You might suggest that you want to put the condom on your partner – what’s more sexy than that?

Learning to talk to your partner about stuff that might be ackward can be hard, but it can also feel good being open and honest with a partner. Nervousness and shy feelings can be common, especially in a new relationship. Sometimes just spending more time with that person and doing things that you both enjoy together can help you get to know each other better, and feel more comfortable.

What is a female condom?
The Female Condom (sometimes called a vaginal or internal condom) is a brand of condom that goes inside the vagina (or anus) to make sex safer from STIs and HIV and pregnancy. It’s usually made out of polyurethane instead of latex (meaning that that it’s okay for people with latex allergies to use). Check out the instructions above on how to use one. One cool thing about the Female Condom is that it covers more skin than a penis condom. This means it can give more protection from certain STIs (such as herpes or genital warts) because there’s a little less genital skin-to-skin contact. It can also be put in up to 8 hours before sex happens. This type of condom is available at some teen clinics, and at many pharmacies as well.
How do you use the condom for girls?
The internal or Female Condom goes inside the vagina. It has a flexible plastic ring inside that helps to insert it into the vagina. The person would squeeze the inner ring until it is almost flat, and with the fingers holding the ring, guide the condom into the vagina, kind of like a tampon. Part of the condom with the outer ring will stay outside the vagina. The condom is held inside the vagina by the inner ring. Once the condom is inside the vagina, you could put a finger inside to make sure that it is not twisted, and remember to make sure the penis or sex toy goes inside the condom (it requires some coordination). After ejaculation (or cumming) happens, the penis or sex toy should be removed, then twist the outer ring shut to keep any fluids from dripping out while the condom is taken out of the vagina. Never re-use a condom! You might also want to practice using them before having sexual intercourse. This type of condom is available at some teen clinics, and at many pharmacies as well.


Can you use a female condom for anal sex?
Yes, internal or female condoms can be used to make anal sex safer from STIs and HIV. Just remove the inner ring first and the condom can be inserted into the anus with a finger. Some teen clinics will have internal or female condoms for free, as well as free penis/sex toy condoms.