We all remember those incredibly awkward sex education classes back in primary and secondary school. You know, the one’s where the maths or English teacher would be forced to enlighten a bunch of 11-year-olds about the birds and the bees, trying to hide their discomfort but putting on a brave face all for the greater good of sex education. Oftentimes, the whole class would burst into laughter (or wince in embarrassment) at the sight of a poorly illustrated penis or the mention of the word “vagina”, and overall, it was a bit of a mess.
And while my school would hand out mountains of free condoms, there was certainly a lack of information on how to actually use them. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there’s been a 24% increase in sexually transmitted infections throughout England, contributing to over 392,000 cases in the past year alone, according to the UK Health Security Agency. A significant contributing factor to those statistics is attributed to (you guessed it) the improper use of condoms. So, in light of this, experts at condoms.uk are shedding some light on the all-too-common mistakes people make when it comes to wearing condoms.
Wearing the wrong size
It might be tempting to overcompensate, but it’s best to stick to the right size for you. Wearing a condom that doesn’t fit won’t only jeopardise comfort but can also threaten your protection. An ill-fitting condom can lead to slippages, which might result in a pretty awkward trip to A&E whilst simultaneously increasing the risk of unplanned pregnancies and STI transmission. On the flip side, if you underestimate yourself, a condom that’s too snug can compromise both pleasure and protection, risking breakages in the heat of the moment.
Storing your condoms in your wallet
You may think of it as a tried and tested way to keep your condoms safe, but you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the constant pressure and friction inside a wallet can weaken the packaging and potentially result in tears or damage to the condom itself. Wallets are great for keeping your money safe, but not your sexual health.
This may be obvious, but there are plenty of people out there who are still completely unaware that condoms can actually expire. And sure, we know the least sexy thing you could do when you’re in the mood is shine a light over a condom and squint to see if your latex friend has run its course, but they have that date for a reason. As condoms age, the materials can deteriorate, leading to weakening, thinning and loss of elasticity. This increases the risk of breakage, leaks and decreased barrier effectiveness against STIs and unintended pregnancies. Additionally, the lubrication of the condom might degrade over time, making sex more painful.
The inside-out incident
Fumbling around with an inside-out condom may be a total turn-off, but the consequences run much deeper. You might be tempted to flip it around, but using a condom that’s been in contact with areas intended for protection is a gamble for your health. Instead, take it off altogether and just open a new packet.
Using the wrong lube
As you’ll know, lubrication is ideal during sex – but not all lubes will work for you. Oil-based lubes might be your go-to, but they’re not compatible with condoms and can cause the latex to weaken and increase the risk of breakage. So, sticking to water-based lubes is your best bet.
Teeth and nails
When you’re in a hurry to get things started, it might seem like using your teeth or nails to open a condom is the quickest approach, but it can result in unintended consequences. Condom packaging is fragile, and it’s incredibly easy to damage, causing tears and holes – which is obviously the last thing you want to happen to a condom.
Never reuse a condom
When it comes to protection, freshness is key. So while it may seem like you’re doing our planet a favour by recycling, reusing condoms is not the way to go. Condoms are designed for single use only, and recycling one comprises its structural integrity, meaning you’re more susceptible to STIs and unplanned pregnancies.