Young Adult Health
Visit website  
Home › Health Topics › Sexual Health > 


rubbers; condoms; sex; intercourse; contraception; penis; pregnancy; semen; lubricant; pre-cum; pre-ejaculate; sexually; transmitted; infections; diseases; HIV;


Rubbers, frangers, prophylactics, rubber johnnies, jimmy hats, French ticklers, condoms - whatever you call them, they are one of the best contraceptive devices we have.

  • They are a very effective way to prevent an unwanted pregancy if they are used correctly.
  • They also provide protection against some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 
  • You can buy them from places like supermarkets and pharmacies (chemist shops), some health centres or some vending machines.
  • They come in many different colours, styles, sizes, and yes…even flavours.

Some unplanned pregnancies result from people not using condoms properly, so read on to make sure you have it all sussed.

What are they?

  • Most condoms are made of a very thin, strong, stretchy material called latex. Some people have an allergy to latex so condoms are also made from polyurethane (they are more expensive).
  • They fit over the penis and work by stopping the transfer of semen and vaginal fluids to a partner.


  • Make sure the condom is not past the use-by date (check the packet).
  • Don't keep condoms in a warm place, such as the glove box of a car or your pocket, as they may perish and become more likely to tear.
  • Only ever use a condom once.
  • Be careful not to tear the condom when opening the packet, or cut it with finger nails or rings.
  • To prevent a pregnancy don't allow the penis to touch the woman's vagina before the condom is on.
    • When the penis becomes erect, pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), which has some sperm in it, can leak out. The condom must be rolled on in time to catch it.
  • Make sure you have the condom the correct way for rolling on.
    • If you put the condom the wrong way on the penis, don’t turn it around and use it, there could be pre-ejaculate on the tip. It's best to use a new one.
  •  Some vending machines sell condoms that are for novelty purposes only, so make sure you read the packaging carefully.


Use a water based lubricant when you use a condom.

  • Lubricants stop the condom tearing due to friction.
  • You can often get the water based lubricant in another packet, pump or tube at the same place as you get the condoms.
  • Don't be embarrassed when asking for lube - health workers and pharmacy staff are trained to handle questions like this and they also know how important lubricants are.
  • Other lubricants - oils and vaginal creams - can make the condom tear.

Wet sex is good sex!

Step by step

  1. Don't start having sex before putting the condom on.
  2. Open the packet carefully so that you don't tear the condom. 
  3. Don't unroll the condom before putting it on the penis.
  4. Put the condom on when the penis is erect (hard).  
  5. Squeeze air out of the tip of the condom and hold it against the tip of the penis. Air in the condom can cause it to break.
  6. Unroll the condom as far down as it will go. Use the lubricant on the outside of the condom to prevent friction, increase pleasure and stop possible tearing of the condom.
  7. If the condom rolls up during sex, roll it back down straight away.
  8. If the condom breaks or comes off during sex, withdraw the penis and put on a new condom.
  9. The penis should be withdrawn as soon as the man ejaculates (cums) and while still hard. Hold on to the condom at the base of the penis so it doesn't come off and spill semen.
  10.  After removing the condom, wipe any semen from the penis.
  11.  Get rid of the condom by wrapping it in paper and putting it in a bin; don’t flush it down the toilet.

If a condom breaks during sex, you should contact your doctor or a sexual health clinic for advice as soon as possible (within 72 hours if you can).

It’s a good idea to practice using condoms in private before getting to the stage of using condoms with another person. Young women can practise too – e.g. on a banana.

Condom myth

The makers of condoms do not deliberately put a hole in some condoms. Each condom is tested to make sure that it does not have a hole before it is put into the package.

Sexually transmitted infections

Condoms give protection from some sexually transmitted infections if used correctly, because they act as a barrier preventing the exchange of body fluids.

  • They give very good protection against HIV and hepatitis B, for example.
  • However, they won't protect against all sexually transmitted infections.
  • A condom may not cover herpes sores or warts near the genital area, and these may still touch the partner's skin.

Have a look at the topic 'Safer sex'.


South Australia



More information

SHine SA. 'Condoms'.

There is information about condoms in many languages on the website of the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service

back to top
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
Home › Health Topics › Sexual Health >