I heard that there are 6 steps to correct condom use. What are they?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), condoms must be used correctly to be effective in reducing the spread of STIs. The following steps are required to correctly use a condom:1

* Use a new condom with each sex act (e.g., oral, vaginal, and anal).
* Carefully handle the condom to avoid damaging it with fingernails, teeth, or other sharp objects.
* Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any genital, oral, or anal contact with the partner.
* Use only water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y Jelly™, Astroglide™, AquaLube™, and glycerin) with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants (e.g., petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and cooking oil) can weaken latex.
* Ensure adequate lubrication during vaginal and anal sex, which might require the use of exogenous water-based lubricants.
* To prevent the condom from slipping off, hold the condom firmly against the base of the penis during withdrawal, and withdraw while the penis is still erect.
Almost no studies actually measure correct condom use. In a study of college males, more than a third reported major errors in condom use over a three month period, despite having received instructions on correct use.2

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-116. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/STD-Treatment-2010-RR5912.pdf.  Accessed: 2012 June 29.
2. Crosby RA, Sanders SA, Yarber WL, et al. Condom use errors and problems among college men. Sex Transm Dis 2002;29(9):552-557.

Reviewed: June 29, 2012.