Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Use of Condoms - A Message to Teens
As a teen, you are faced with many challenges
and decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Deciding when to begin
having sex is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It is
perfectly normal not to have sex until marriage. Sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) and unplanned pregnancies are at all-time highs for people your age. Not
having sex (abstinence) is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
It’s also the only way to avoid getting sexually transmitted HIV, the AIDS
virus. However, if you do decide to have sex, correct use of latex condoms will
help you protect yourself and your partner against these risks.
A condom acts like a barrier
or wall to keep semen, fluid from the vagina, and blood from passing from one
person to the other during sex. These fluids can carry germs. If no condom is
used, the germs can pass from the infected person to the uninfected person. Use
of a condom also prevents unwanted pregnancies by keeping sperm out of the
Other good reasons to use
- They are cheap.
- They are easy to get (you don’t need a
prescription to buy them).
- They rarely have side effects.
- They are easy to
Some people have excuses
for not using condoms, such as they are not comfortable, they lessen their
enjoyment of sex, or they are unnatural. However, using a condom can make sex
more enjoyable because both partners are more relaxed and secure. Besides, the
risks involved with not using condoms make any excuses seem pretty
How to buy
When buying condoms, be sure
the ones you choose:
- are latex — some condoms are made of
natural membranes (lambskin) and not latex. Only latex condoms have been
proved to work against STDs because they prevent the passage of harmful
- have a reservoir (nipple) at the tip to catch
- are lubricated with nonoxynol-9, which is
a spermicide (chemical) that has been proved to give additional protection
against STDs, including the AIDS
Condoms come in
different colors, textures, and sometimes sizes. A good-quality condom is the
most important feature for safer sex. Other points to keep in mind when buying
- Be sure to check the expiration date on the
package. Do not buy or use them if they have expired.
- Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place.
You can carry a condom with you at all times, but do not store them where they
will get hot (like in the glove box of a car). Heat can damage the condom. Also,
carrying them in a purse or wallet is okay as long as it is not for long periods
of time — this shortens their
Try not to feel
embarrassed about buying condoms. By using condoms, you are proving that you are
being responsible and there is nothing embarrassing about
How to put condoms
Condoms are easy to use. However,
they only work it they are used correctly. Follow these easy steps to make sure
you are using them the right way:
1. Carefully remove the condom from the
2. Put the condom on the end of the penis when
the penis is erect (“hard”).
3. Hold the condom by the tip and carefully roll
the condom all the way to the base of the penis.
4. Leave extra space (1/4 to 1/2 inch) at tip of
the condom to catch the semen.
If you do
not have much experience with condoms, you should practice putting a condom on
and taking it off by yourself, before you use it for sex with another
person. Be sure to put the condom on when an erection first
Do not wait until you are ready to
have sex — it may be too late.
of semen may leak from the uncovered penis. These small drops are enough to pass
STDs to the other person or to cause a woman to get pregnant. For added
protection against STDs and pregnancy, use a spermicidal foam, cream, or jelly
along with the condom. Make sure the spermicide you use contains
- Before unrolling the condom, place a small amount
of the spermicidal foam, cream, or jelly inside its tip.
- After unrolling the condom over the erect penis,
place some more of the foam, cream, or jelly on the outside of the condom.
Females can also use the spermicide inside the vagina for extra protection in
case the condom breaks. Follow the directions on the spermicide
How to take
Withdraw the penis from the
vagina right after ejaculation, while it is still erect or “hard.”
Hold on to the condom at the rim while the penis is withdrawn. Be careful as you
slide it off the penis. Do not tug to pull condom off — it may tear. Throw
away used condoms immediately. Never use a condom more than once. Be sure to
keep used condoms away from your partner’s genitals and other areas of the
body as well. This will prevent semen from getting on hands or other body parts.
If this happens, wash any areas of the body that have been touched by the semen.
Always insist that a condom be used every time you have sex. It is the only way
to be sure that you are protected from infection. You should say NO to
sex if you don’t have a condom or if your partner refuses to use
Special points to
- Whenever possible, buy lubricated
- If you buy condoms that are not lubricated, you
also may need a lubricant to help prevent the condom from breaking. Lubricants
may also prevent irritation, which could increase the chances of infection. Use
only water-based lubricants (like K-Y jelly). Do not use oil-based
lubricants such as petroleum jelly (like Vaseline), hand or body lotions, or
vegetable oil with latex condoms, since they can damage the condom.
- Other forms of birth control like the pill,
diaphragm, or IUD do not prevent the spread of STDs — only condoms
do. If another form of birth control is being used, a latex condom must also be
used to make sure both partners are protected from STDs.
- If you have had sex and you did not use a latex
condom, you could have an infection and not know it.
- Some STDs take several months to show symptoms
and some have no symptoms.
See your pediatrician if
you or your partner have any of the following:
- discharge from the vagina, penis, or
- pain or burning during urination or
- pain in the abdomen, testes, buttocks, and
- blisters, open sores, warts, rash, or swelling
in the genital area or mouth
- flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache,
aching muscles, or swollen glands
- miss a period and think you might be
Why should I use a
To prevent the spread of AIDS
and other diseases
When should I use a
Every time you have
How do I use a
- Roll the condom all the way to the base of the
- Leave space at the tip.
- After intercourse, carefully withdraw the penis
and then slide the condom off.
- Throw away the used condom — condoms can
only be used once.
- Condoms do not make sex 100% safe, but if used
properly, they will reduce the risk of STDs, including AIDS.
- Know the facts so that you can protect yourself
and others from getting infected.
Not having sex is the
safest. However, if you are having sex, be sure to always use a latex condom. It
is the best way for you and your partner to stay healthy. For more information
about condoms and how to prevent STDs and pregnancy, talk with your