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This Way, Not That Way: Avoiding One of the Most Common Condom Oops

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Submitted by Heather Corinna on Thu, 2013-06-27 12:32

One of the most common condom whoopsies we hear about from our users involves themselves or a partner going to put a condom on, then discovering they've put it on the wrong way.

Often, after doing that, they'll also report following that up with a second common oops, which is just flipping that same condom over and then putting it on the right way.

Condoms are highly effective safer sex tools to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring STIs, as well as a very effective method of contraception. But that effectiveness depends a whole lot on using them not just consistently, but properly. This isn't proper use.

If you can see the image here on the page, you'll notice the edge of the condom is rolled facing up. Like the brim of a hat. Or a rolled up sock or stocking before you put it on. Or, if you cuff your jeans, how the cuff looks when you look down at it.

Rolled up, towards you when you're looking at it, rather than rolled under or down, with the rolled-up rim facing away from you.

When you -- or a partner -- go to put it on a penis, toy or prosthetic, you want to be looking at it like that, with that rolled edge facing up, then roll it down from there, which will usually be easy when it's the right way.

If it's a struggle to roll down, chances are when you look at it, you'll find it's not facing the right way: and whoops, you or yours didn't put it on right.


If you're visually impaired, or just want a tactile way to make sure about this, you can stick you finger in the middle of the ring and roll the condom down your finger a little bit to confirm that it's facing the right way. Then, pinch the tip, pull it off your finger, and put onto the penis or toy. We'd just not advise doing that if you've got long fingernails, as that could tear the condom.

If that happens, you'll need to toss that condom out, and try again with a new one.

That one you flubbed with is no good to you anymore. It's potentially had contact with fluids or pathogens if it's had contact with whatever it was being put on, the fluids or pathogens a condom, properly used, keeps you from having contact with.

This is one of many reasons why, when we're using condoms for safer sex, contraception or both, we want to make sure we always have more than one handy, rather than relying on only one. If you only have that one, then your best bet, is to just take a pass on whatever kind of sex you needed it for that day, and save that for another day when you've got a new condom, preferably a few, since you just found out having only one sometimes isn't so sound. (This is also one reason that having sex with the lights on, or some access to light when you need it, like when you're putting on a condom, is a good thing.)

If this already just happened and you used that same condom anyway, you'll need to figure your condom may not have given you the level of protection from STIs that it can with proper use, and same goes with the level of protection it can provide against pregnancy, if you were using it, or also using it, for that.

What you can do from there per pregnancy prevention is consider using a method of emergency contraception. When it comes to higher STI risks you may have taken, you'll just want to keep up with your regular testing schedule -- or test again sooner than you would had that not happened, if you like -- and if you haven't already started getting tested, figure that a month or so from this incident is probably a good time to start.

This mistake is also often one we see reported from users using condoms for the first time, whose partners are using them for the first time, or where condom use is just generally new to everyone. If you're the person who is going to be wearing the condom, don't forget that condom use isn't something you can only learn when it's time to use them with a partner! You can always buy a box for yourself, and practice with them alone, when the pressure is off. That way, you don't have to be trying to learn a new skill in a situation where it can be tricky to get it right right off the bat.

This way, that's something really important you can know how to do in advance (which gives you the bonus of knowing how to do one part of something where there's so much we can only learn with a lot of practice, talking and time spent together).

Even if you're not a person who will be wearing a condom, it's really useful to know how they are properly used, since you may find that sometimes a partner of yours won't know how to use them properly, or when a mistake like this has been made.

For more on condom use and avoiding mishaps, you can check out:

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