Healthy People in a Healthy Environment

Safer Sex and Condoms

Family Planning

Safer sex and condoms


Safer sex means always assuming that your partner could be HIV-infected, and never allowing his or her risky body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk) to enter your body. Touching, dry kissing, body rubbing, and mutual masturbation are the safest sexual activities. Safer penetrative sex means always using a latex barrier for anal, vaginal, and oral intercourse. This includes using a condom on a man or barrier protection such as plastic wrap, a dental dam, or cut condom for oral sex on a woman and for oral-anal contact. 

Do condoms provide 100% protection from HIV? 

No, condoms are not 100% effective at preventing HIV transmission; however, when used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective and reliable in reducing the risk of transmitting and acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The surest ways to avoid the sexual transmission of HIV (and other STDs) is 1) to abstain from sex, or 2) to have sex with only one partner known be uninfected. The next surest way is to use condoms consistently and correctly during all penetrative sexual acts. When condoms do fail, it is most often because of improper and/or inconsistent use.

Following these basic rules will further reduce the small chance of condom failure:

Use latex (rubber) or polyurethane condoms.

These are preferable to “natural skin” condoms, which may have tiny holes through which HIV may pass.

Choose a condom that fits.

Condoms come in different sizes, shapes, and styles. Experiment with different condoms and practice putting them on before intercourse. Also practice talking with a close friend about your desire and intention to use condoms.

Open and handle condoms carefully.

Never use a condom in a damaged package or one that is past its expiration date. Do not store condoms in hot or sunny places (for example, in a wallet or by a window).

Use plenty of water-based lubricant.

Water-based lubricants help to reduce the friction that can cause breakage. Never use oil-based lubricants like Vaseline, hand cream, Crisco, or mineral oil which can rapidly break down latex and allow the virus to pass through. Water-based lubricants include K-Y Jelly, Slippery stuff, ForPlay, and most contraceptive jellies.

Put the condom on after erection but before insertion.

Leave some room at the tip for the discharged semen (some condoms have a reservoir tip for this). It is important to pinch the tip as you roll it down onto the penis to be sure that there are no air bubbles that could pop under pressure. If the penis is uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before unrolling the condom all the way down to the base of the penis.

After intercourse, withdraw the penis while still erect.

Hold the base of the condom to prevent it from slipping off or spilling semen

Use a condom only once.

Use a condom only once and dispose of it in the garbage; do not flush condoms down the toilet. Never reuse a condom.

Use a condom EVERY TIME during sex.

Use a condom every time during sex when transmission or acquisition of HIV and STDs are possible..