Editor's note: This post has been updated.
Condoms are so accessible, it's easy to assume you mastered putting them on before you even saw another person's genitals IRL (depending on your sex ed curriculum). However, all of us could use a refresher on how to put on a condom, whether we had rad health teachers or were stuck with abstinence-only education. Because the truth is, according to Planned Parenthood, condoms are only 82% effective when you add in human error (but 98% effective when used properly)— so knowing the exact right way to use condoms is important for anyone looking to prevent pregnancy or STI transmission.
The first thing to keep in mind? When people talk about condoms, they're usually referring to the male condom, a birth control method and safer sex barrier typically made out of latex and placed over a penis. But condoms aren't just for penises; they can also be used over dildos to protect against STIs. (Yes, STIs can spread through sex toys.) And if latex male condoms don't work for you (for whatever reason), know that there are other sexual barrier options out there, like "lambskin" condoms and diaphragms (though they come with their own caveats).
Read on for a step-by-step guide to putting on condoms — and don't be afraid to practice on a banana or cucumber.
The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.