If you are deciding to have sex you’ll want to get familiar with the barrier methods that can protect you and your partner(s) from STIs and HIV. When used correctly, barriers like condoms can be 95-97% effective.
Depending on the type of sex you’re having, you have some choices. There are condoms that go over a penis or sex toy, internal or “female” condoms, sex dams, gloves, and finger condoms (cots). In other words, there are ways you can reduce your risks for pretty much any type of sex.
Most condoms are made out of a type of rubber called latex, or a very thin plastic called polyurethane (if someone is sensitive to latex use the non-latex kind). If you 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 can depend on where you live. Gloves and sex dams are sometimes available from teen clinics, health centres, or usually from Rainbow Resource Centre (in Winnipeg). If you can’t get safer sex supplies for free or low-cost at a clinic or health centre, try your closest convenience or drug store.
- Types of condoms
There are a few different types of condoms…
- Lubricated: (feels slippery): Used on a penis/sex toy.
- Non-lubricated: (dry, no slippery stuff): Can be used for mouth on penis oral sex, or made into a sex dam for other types of oral sex. You can always add lube to dry condoms, just make sure that it’s water-based and okay to use with a condom (oil-based stuff like lotion, Vaseline, and lip gloss can damage latex condoms).
- Flavoured: Usually also lubricated.
- Polyurethane: Not made out of latex and can be used by people whom are sensitive 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 material they’re made of will eventually break down. If it’s expired, don’t use it!
- Writing on the package that says it will help to prevent unwanted pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
- Internal Condoms
- Internal or “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 someone more control in making sure a condom is used. you can put one in hours before and be ready sex might be a possibility later.
Since the internal condom hangs outside of the body 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, but they might be free at some Teen Clinics and health centres, but we would advise calling ahead to ask before going.
How to use it!
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 sex, make sure the penis or sex toy is going inside the condom and not beside the condom.
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!
*The internal condom can be used inside the vagina or anus. If using it inside the anus just remove the inner ring before using.
- 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’s 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!
How to make one!
Step 1: Get a condom.
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. The point is to keep your fluids on one side and your partner’s fluids on the other side. If the dam is flipped over, twisted or dropped on the floor, just make or use another one.
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?
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 an internal/female condom?
- The internal condom (brands also call it a ‘female’ condom) is a type 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). One cool thing about the internal 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. Check out the instructions above on how to use one.
- Can you use an internal condom for anal sex?
- Yes, internal 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.