Condoms: They may seem like the simplest form of contraception and personal protection in the book, and in a sense they can be. But that alone doesn't prevent accidents and slip-ups from happening in tons of scenarios, and that's because there's a whole range of condom mistakes you might be making that you were none the wiser about. Even if you swear up and down that you're doing everything vested in your power to be as safe and use them as correctly as possible, there could be a few smaller things you're doing wrong that you're not even aware of. And those, of course, are the most dangerous as all, and why researching them beforehand (like through this article!) is crucial to keeping you diligent in all your sexual encounters.
While you might know that using two condoms at once is always wrong (and if you didn't — it definitely is!), there are other, even subtler mistakes that you might be making without even thinking that they could be wrong. Things like ensuring the package itself is okay to making sure it's worn properly can be tough to look out for in the heat of the moment, but it is these types of things exactly that put you at risk with a sexual partner. Especially if you've been using condoms for a while and think there's no way you could be doing anything incorrectly — this is the time to make double sure. For the safest bet, here are some common mistakes people make with this form of contraception. Remember them, and go into your next sexual encounter with as much knowledge as possible for keeping you and your partner safe.
1You're Not Putting It On Early Enough
In a study conducted by the journal Sexual Health, up to 51 percent of people put a condom on after intercourse had already begun, and another study cites that among people who use more than one method of contraception, 35 percent begin intercourse without one. Remember that even if you use other forms of birth control, you’re not protected against sexually transmitted infections, which you’re exposed to as soon as genital-to-genital contact happens. According to Planned Parenthood, ensure you've put the condom on at the correct time by doing so before the penis touches the vulva.
2You're Not Wearing It The Whole Time
The same study in Sexual Health concluded that up to 44 percent of individuals take a condom off before intercourse is over, and a second study cites that among people who use more than one method of contraception, only 59 percent use a condom the whole time. Again, the condom has to be on the whole time to prevent genital-to-genital contact, the potential transmission of STIs, and possible pregnancy.
3You're Not Checking The Condom Before Use
Yes, it's true — 82 percent of women and 74 percent of men fail to check condoms for damage before use, according to the Sexual Health study. Inspecting things like the packaging as well as the expiration date are crucial to ensuring that the product itself is going to be effective.
4You're Not Storing Them Properly
Planned Parenthood notes that, "long exposure to air, heat, and light makes [condoms] more likely to break." Storing them away from sunlight, outside of wallets and pockets, and in a cool, dry area is the best way to prevent them from deteriorating in any way and losing efficacy.
5You Forget To Use Lube
The Sexual Health study suggested that between 16 and 25 percent of participants use condoms without lubrication. As this highly increases the risk of breakage, it is crucial to use lube when using a condom during sex.
6You're Using The Wrong Kind Of Lube
Not all lubes are equal when using condoms. As sex researcher Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., author of Because It Feels Good, told Buzzfeed, "coconut oil, lotions, massage oils, and petroleum jelly can all break down latex." To keep things together, Planned Parenthood stresses using only water-based lubricants, such as K-Y jelly or Astroglide, with latex condoms.
7You're Not Leaving Space At The Tip
The Sexual Health study also cites that 24 to 45 percent of the participants fail to leave space for semen at the tip of the condom, which is necessary for ejaculate. Planned Parenthood recommends leaving a half-inch of space.
8You're Not Removing The Condom Quickly Enough
One study suggested that partners fail to withdraw after ejaculation promptly in up to 57 percent of encounters. The condom has to be removed while the erection is still present, which will be very soon after sex. If it is not, and the erection goes away, there is more room left in the condom, which increases the chance of spilling and potentially exposing a partner.
9You're Only Using One Type Of Condom
This one is definitely a big mistake. There are literally tons of types of condoms out there, so assuming that because you didn't like a certain one, you're not going to find one you like, is certainly erroneous. There are pre-lubricated ones, ones that come in multiple flavors, ribbed, long, short — you name it, it's probably out there. So feel free to experiment and have fun while keeping yourself safe.