What are the basics?

Condoms and lube provide the most effective barrier to HIV and are also the best way to reduce your risk of picking up or passing on other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Condoms can prevent infections passing from one partner to the other during anal sex. If used correctly and consistently condoms are very reliable. They can occasionally split or slip off, so it's a good idea to check from time to time that the condom is still on and that it is still intact. What can I do to reduce the chance of slipping or splitting? Choose the right size; condoms come in a variety of sizes, including tighter fitting, regular and larger fitting. Using a condom that is too tight or too large may cause slippage or splitting.

Here are a few more things to think about too:

  • Check the “use by” date and throw out any expired condoms. You can get new ones from the “Free Condoms” service in Glasgow’s gay bars and clubs and a range of other community venues. Your old condoms can be disposed of in the bin.
  • Be careful not to tear the condom when opening the packet. Do not open condoms with your teeth.
  • Before rolling the condom on, make sure it's the right way around. If you accidentally place a condom on your penis the wrong way around you might get pre-cum on the outside of it, so just open a new condom instead.
  • Make sure the penis is fully erect and if uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin
  • Pinch the teat to expel the air and roll the condom all the way to the base of the penis.
  • Use plenty of water or silicone based lube. Oil based lube (Vaseline, baby oil, moisturiser etc.) will weaken the condom and can cause them to break. If you’re having anal sex for over thirty minutes, make sure you regularly reapply lube and occasionally replace the condom with a new one.
  • A condom is for single use only. If you are having sex with multiple partners, use a new condom for each person.
  •  After you have ejaculated and while your penis is still erect, hold onto the condom at the base of the penis and pull out.
  • If you have a penis piercing you might experience more breakages, so think about checking the condom more regularly during anal sex.

Why can’t I maintain an erection with condoms?

Some men have trouble maintaining their erection whilst using condoms. Here are some handy hints:

  • Have a condom handy when having sex so it doesn't involve a break in the action.
  • Get your partner to place the condom on you and make it a fun part of sex.
  • Some toys like cockrings might help to maintain your erection.
  • Use condoms when masturbating on your own so that you get used to how they feel and you build up your familiarity with them. If you continue to have problems with condoms and erections, you can get help for this from Sandyford Counselling and Support Service.

What kind of condom is best?

There are different types of condoms available. It’s important to get the right fit of condom to make sure it doesn’t break or come off during sex. Steve Retson Project provides free standard fitting condoms in bars, clubs and saunas, while for those of you with different requirements, the clinic and the Free Condoms Service provides a wider variety including latex allergy ones.

Why not try out a variety of condoms in order to find out what shape and type is best for you. What’s the best kind of lube? Generally choosing the best lube is a matter of preference. However, if you’re using condoms, use water or silicone based lubes as they prevent the condom from breaking. Avoid using oil based lube including baby oil, cooking oil and butter, as it damages the condom.

It’s really up to you – why not try some of them out. Free lube is available in the gay bars, clubs and saunas and at the Steve Retson Project and the Free Condoms service.