Essential for safer play!
Irrespective of whether you have sex with only women, both men and women, or only men, using condoms correctly is the easiest way to prevent both HIV and other STIs.
Why should I use condoms?
For HIV infection to take place, two things are needed:
- A high-risk body fluid: semen (cum) and blood pose the highest risk for HIV spreading from one person to another because they contain high concentrations of the virus.
- An entry-point into your bloodstream: semen or blood on your intact skin doesn’t pose any risk, because the virus needs to get into your bloodstream in order for you to be infected.
There are several ways in which the virus contained in someone else’s semen or blood can enter you body. The easiest way for the virus to enter your bloodstream is through anal sex. If someone who is HIV-positive ejaculates inside your rectum (ass), the virus can pass directly through into your bloodstream. This is especially important if the person who ejaculates inside you is HIV-positive and not on ARVs (or on ARVs but not with an undetectable status). A condom stops the semen – which contains the virus – from entering your ass during anal sex.
If you are the penetrating partner (the ‘top’) during anal sex a condom protects your penis from the virus that could be in your partner’s blood. A condom can also protect you from other infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia or syphilis.
If you also have sex with women, a condom protects your partner from HIV infection through your semen, and protects your penis from being infected through her blood or vaginal fluids. Condoms also help prevent pregnancy.
How do I use a condom correctly?
- Always use a new condom for each act of vaginal or anal intercourse. Open the package carefully, so that you do not tear the condom or damage it with your fingernails or a ring.
- Before any form of direct sexual contact with your partner, place the condom over the head of your erect penis, leaving about one-centimeter of space at the end. If you are uncircumcised, pull back your foreskin before you place the condom over the head of your penis.
- The condom should fit over the head of the penis like a small rubber cap, with the rolled “brim” outside the “cap” so that it will unroll easily down the shaft of the penis. Gently squeeze the tip of the condom to remove any trapped air. Never use more than one condom at the same time – they could rub against each other and break easily.
- Hold the tip of the condom and unroll it all the way down to the base of your penis. When the condom is fully rolled down, apply water-based lubricant before you enter your partner.
- While having sex, periodically withdraw your penis from your partner’s anus or vagina and check whether the condom is unbroken. If your partner’s anus or vagina is feeling a bit dry apply more water-based lubricant to the condom. If it is broken, replace the condom and apply water-based lubricant.
- After you ejaculate (cum), hold the condom to the base of your penis while you withdraw — to keep it from coming off while it is still in your partner’s anus or vagina. Gently peel the used condom off the tip of your penis, tie a knot in it so that the semen (cum) is trapped inside and throw it away. Never use a condom more than once
Using the correct lubricant
Never use any product that contains oils (such as Vaseline, hand and body lotions, baby oils, butter and cooking oil) with a condom – these harm the condom and make it easier for it to break. Use water-based lubrication only!
Having fun with condoms
Some guys find condoms a bother, for several reasons; some lose their erection when they put a condom on and other guys complain that condoms are too tight. Many guys say that condoms reduce their sensation during sex. If you lose your erection when wearing a condom, try masturbating (skommel) with a condom on your penis. Practice makes perfect! Practice putting a condom on and have fun exploring different ways to pleasure yourself.
There are different makes of condoms and some may be more comfortable for you than others. “One size fits all” is not always true! Explore different makes or brands of condoms, and for extra fun try a flavoured condom or a textured, ribbed condom.
There are other ways to prevent HIV if you choose not to use condoms like PrEP and U=U, but it these strategies won’t protect you from other STIs.