Let's talk about Condoms

Condoms are a common barrier method of contraception. They are latex (in some cases non-latex) sleeves which fit over the penis helping to provide protection against unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Condoms are available in a variety of different colours, textures and sizes; there are condoms available for everyone. Read on for the test.me guide to using condoms for a safer sexual experience.

What is a condom?

Condoms are designed to protect against unplanned pregnancy and unwanted sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are generally a thin latex sleeve that are worn on the outside of the penis. During sex, semen is collected in a teat (pouch) at the end of the condom, preventing sperm from coming into contact to any partner(s).

test.me guide to condoms

Why should you use a condom?

Condoms are a cost-effective, easy-to-access form of contraception and protection against STIs.

Condoms can help:

  • Protect against unwanted pregnancy
  • Protect against STIs
  • Enhance play
  • Offer extra peace of mind

Many condoms come pre-lubricated and are designed to maximise pleasure as well as offering protection from unwanted health issues.

Why do people use condoms?

Are condoms effective?

When worn correctly, condoms are 98% effective in offering protection against unwanted pregnancy and STIs. Many condoms are also designed to enhance the experience of sex as well as offering a method of safer sex – so there really is no good reason to not wear one.

The best way to protect yourself and your partner(s) is to make sure that your contraception is safe to use.

Make sure your condom is safe to use

  • Before use, check the packaging of your condom. Check there are no rips or tears and the condom has not reached its expiration date – if in doubt, throw it out.

  • Store your condoms in a cool, dark place. Condoms stored in your back pocket or wallet can be less effective.

  • Don’t open the condom packet with your teeth and be careful not to puncture the packaging with your fingernails

  • Wear the condom from start to finish and ensure it is put on correctly. You can follow our advice and guidance for putting on a condom using this link

  • Never use the same condom twice.

  • If you're having a long sex session, change condoms after 30 minutes. Prolonged friction can weaken the condom, making it more likely to break or fail.

  • Don’t use two condoms together as this increases the chances of them splitting or tearing.
Why should i use a condom - the test,me guide to condoms

Which condoms should I buy?

The best condom to wear is the one that feels good to wear and fits you correctly. We offer a range of sizes to try when you buy an at-home STI testing kit.

Regular condoms:

Designed to fit standard-sized penis owners, regular condoms measure 19mm in length and 54-66mm in width. Regular condoms are “snug” enough to offer a safer sexual experience.

Size appropriate condoms:

Size does not matter, however having the best fitting condom does.

Condoms usually come in small, standard/regular and large sizes. Choosing the condom size that is most suited to your penis size will help ensure the condom stays in place, minimising the risk of unwanted pregnancy or the transmission of sexually transmitted infections as well as ensuring maximum pleasure for all.

If you’re a larger than average penis owner and find regular sized condoms don’t provide comfort and fit, then our large condom kit is the perfect option for you.

If you find regular sized condoms are too loose during sex, our small condom kit could be your perfect match, offering a level of snugness and safety during sex.

Latex-free condoms

Latex-free condoms are the ideal option for anyone with a latex allergy. Made from Polyisoprene or polyurethane, non-latex condoms offer a more natural feel.

We have a selection of condoms available to buy with your at-home STI testing kit – discover how condoms can help you enjoy safer sex.

how to put a condom on - the test.me guide to condoms

How to put on a condom

Putting on a condom is easy. We’ve even created a handy how-to-guide for you.

Follow these 6 easy steps for safer, pleasurable sex.

  1. Carefully open and remove the condom from the wrapper.

  2. Place the condom on the head of the erect, hard penis

  3. Pinch the air out of the tip of the condom

  4. Unroll the condom all the way down the penis

  5. After sex, but before pulling out, hold the condom at the base. Pull out while holding the condom in place.

  6. Carefully remove the condom and discard in the bin.

Ensure you have chosen a condom that fits you well. Our condom kits are available in trim, regular and large sizes. Choosing the one that fits your penis size will help ensure the condom stays in place.

Each condom kit is supplied with sachets of lubricant, these can be used to minimise chafing, avoid rips and tears in the condoms as well as enhance pleasure for both/all partners.

What to do if a condom breaks

Accidents happen!

If you know the condom has broken during sex, stop right away, withdraw the penis and use a new condom.

If a condom has broken, split, or slipped off or you think you’ve used it incorrectly the most important thing is to not panic.

If you’re worried you or your partner could be pregnant, see your GP, local sexual health clinic, or pharmacy to ask about getting emergency contraception.

If your partner(s) has not recently been tested for STIs, it is advisable to get tested if the condom has broken during sex. It is important to get tested for STIs so you can be treated and avoid any further problems caused by infection.

You can order an at-home STI testing kit delivered discreetly, direct to your door.

Using a condom for oral sex - the test.me guide to condoms

Using condoms for oral sex

Did you know condoms can be used for protection and pleasure during oral sex?

Whilst pregnancy isn’t a risk during oral sex, transmission of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis can be which is why protection during oral sex matters.

Using a condom during oral sex can still make for an enjoyable experience – even if you’re not into the taste of rubber or latex. Try adding a flavoured lubricant (avoid oil-based lubes as these can make the condom less effective).

Many people prefer wearing a condom because oral sex can be too sensitive. They can also help oral sex last longer and prolong the moment.

Using condoms for anal sex

Having anal sex can be high-risk for getting or passing on STIs without the appropriate level of protection. Using a condom will help protect you and any partner(s) against sexually transmitted infections.

Condoms can enhance anal sex especially when using lubrication in addition to a condom. Ensure any lubrication is water or silicone based.

If you are switching from anal sex to vaginal sex, or vice versa, you should use a new condom. Introducing bacteria from the rectum into the vagina can cause infection. 


Last reviewed May 2022 by Dr Vanessa Apea

Dr Vanessa Apea is a highly experienced sexual health clinician, researcher and speaker. Since 2011, Vanessa has been a consultant physician in Genito-urinary and HIV medicine at Barts Health NHS Trust, and clinical lead for five of those years. She is an Honorary Senior Lecturer and the deputy academic lead for equality, diversity and inclusion within Queen Mary University of London’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

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