External Condoms

What is a condom?

  • A condom is a latex rubber or polyurethane pouch. It fits over a penis or sex toy during sexual intercourse.

How does the condom work?

  • The condom is a barrier. When used on a penis, it stops sperm from getting into the vagina, anus, or mouth during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It will prevent pregnancy 85-97% of the time.
  • A condom can be used on sex toys to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Can the condom protect me from STIs and HIV?

  • Yes. The condom offers protection against most STIs, including HIV. The internal (female) condom is the only other method of birth control that will do this.
  • The condom may not protect you against the viruses that cause genital warts or herpes.

What kind of condom should I use?

  • Use latex or polyurethane condoms. They will protect you from most STIs and HIV.
  • When possible, use lubricated latex condoms with a reservoir tip. Lubricated condoms offer better protection because they have a less chance of breaking. Non-lubricated condoms are good for oral sex.
  • There are also condoms that come in different colours, flavours, sizes and textures (feel).
  • Read the label to make sure they offer protection from STIs and pregnancy.

Where can I buy condoms?

  • You can buy condoms at drug stores, some supermarkets and some convenience stores.
  • Make sure that the packages states that the condom will protect you against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Your community clinic, teen clinic, guidance counsellor or public health nurse may give you low-cost or free condoms.

How do I use a condom on a penis?

Important: Make sure to put a condom on the erect (hard) penis before you have any contact with your partner’s vagina, anus or mouth, and check the expiry date and for any holes in packaging.

  1. Read the condom package carefully, making sure it states that it protects against STIs and pregnancy.
  2. Check the condom for any holes in the packaging. If there are any holes, discard the condom, get another one, and start back at step 1.
  3. Carefully unwrap the condom package with your hands and take out the condom, being careful not to tear it.
  4. Put water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom if possible.
  5. Make sure the “ring” of the condom is on the outside so that the condom will roll easily down the penis.
  6. If you are not circumcised, pull back your foreskin before you put on the condom.
  7. Pinch the reservoir tip at the top of the condom with three fingers to remove all the air.
  8. Roll the condom all the way down the erect (hard) penis with the other hand. Put water-based lubricant on the outside of the condom, if possible.
  9. If you can’t roll the condom down, the “ring” may be inside. Throw the condom away, get another one, and start back at step 1.
  10. After you ejaculate, hold on to the condom and pull out from your partner. If you leave your penis inside your partner’s body until it is soft, the condom may leak. If you continue having sex and the condom is full of ejaculate or “cum”, the condom may break.
  11. Take the condom off away from your partner’s vagina or anus.
  12. Check to see if there were any tears or holes.
  13. Throw the condom away in the trash can. Do not flush condoms down the toilet.

What if the condom slips or breaks?

If the condom slips or breaks during penis-vagina sex, there may be a chance of pregnancy. Consider using emergency contraception as soon as possible, up to five days after sex. See your health practitioner, a pharmacist or a community health centre for emergency contraception.

Can I reuse a condom?

No. You must use a new condom every time you ejaculate or have sex. Never reuse a condom.

What are some other things to remember?

  • Practice using a condom before you have sexual intercourse for the first time.
  • Never use scissors or knives when opening a condom package.
  • Store condoms in a cool dry place, away from sharp objects. Sunlight and heat can break down the condoms. For this reason, don’t keep them in the glove compartment in your car, a back pocket or your wallet.
  • Add water-based lubricants to the inside and outside of the condom to increase protection and sexual pleasure. Also, condoms are less likely to break if you put water based lubricant on the outside of the condom.
  • Use water-based lubricants only. Never use oil based lubricants like vaseline, cooking oil, margarine, hand cream or baby oil. They can break down latex condoms.

Where can I get more information?

  • From your health care provider, community health clinic, or public health nurse. If you need a regular health care provider, call the Family Doctor Finder at 204-786-7111 or toll-free at 1-866-690-8260, or go to www.gov.mb.ca/health/familydoctorfinder.
  • From the Facts of Life On-Line: e-mail your questions to thefactsoflife@serc.mb.ca.
  • From a teen clinic if you are under 22 years old.

If this method fails, and if you don’t want to get pregnant, see a health care provider or pharmacist for emergency contraception as soon as you can.


Anus – The opening to the rectum (in the bum).

Emergency Contraception – Medication used to avoid pregnancy after sex when you didn’t use birth control or the birth control didn’t work (for example, the condom broke).

Ejaculate/Ejaculation – The release of semen from the penis. Ejaculate is also known as “cum”.

Penis – The external male sex organ, used for urination (peeing) and sexual intercourse.

Vagina – The muscular tube that connects the cervix to the outside of the female body; where the menstrual blood comes out from the uterus, where a baby comes out from the uterus during childbirth, and where a penis or sex toy can go in for vaginal intercourse.

SERC believes that all individuals have the right to access unbiased sexual and reproductive health information and services. They must also have the opportunity to explore their values and attitudes in making informed choices that are most appropriate for them, and have those choices respected and supported. SERC supports and defends a pregnant person’s right to choose parenting, adoption, or abortion.

Developed in collaboration with Klinic Community Health and Literacy Partners of Manitoba 2007
Sexuality Education Resource Centre 2016