Safer sex and condoms

Before you decide to have sex, talk to your partner.

  • To prevent becoming pregnant, you will need to use a form of contraception, usually a condom or the oral contraceptive pill.
  • For protection against sexually transmissible infections, you should always use a condom.

Safer sex can include:

  • using condoms or an oral dam during vaginal, oral or anal sex with every partner, every time
  • having one long-term sexual partner using condoms until you have both been tested for STIs
  • masturbating
  • kissing, licking, stroking, rubbing, cuddling and hugging
  • body massage.

Talk to your doctor or someone at a sexual health clinic about getting tested.

Condoms can protect you and your partner from most STIs

Some STIs are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, and a condom or oral dam might not prevent this.

The more sexual partners you have without using condoms, the higher your risk of getting an STI.

Alcohol and drugs can stop you making clear decisions about your sexual behaviour.

Being safer sexually means discussing safer sex with your partner, and showing respect for your partners and yourself.

Most people know that condoms can help protect them from getting an STI

Most people don’t use condoms because they:

  • feel awkward about buying or carrying them
  • find them too expensive (you can get them cheaper on prescription)
  • are persuaded to have sex when they’re not expecting to
  • are drunk or stoned and have less control
  • see condoms as a barrier to intimacy
  • think their partner is safe (in fact, no one can tell without testing)
  • are worried the ‘mood’ may be broken
  • are afraid to talk about using condoms in case their partner gets angry, abusive or leaves them.

If any of these reasons apply to you, talk to your doctor, practice nurse, Family Planning or local sexual health clinic. Unless you are in an established relationship with one partner, where neither partner has been or is having sex with anyone else, you need condoms to protect against STIs.

Early treatment of STI

If you think you may have an STI, see your doctor or sexual health clinic. Symptoms may include:

  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • unusual urethral discharge (anything other than wee or semen)
  • lower abdominal pain
  • pain or frequency in passing urine (wee)
  • pain during sexual intercourse.

Condoms

A condom is a rubber sheath which fits over the penis to catch sperm when the man ejaculates (comes).

Condoms are available in different sizes for a comfortable fit. The right size is less likely to slip off or split.

Polyurethane condoms for male and female use are available. They are an option if you are allergic to latex. Some medications/lube applied to the vagina or penis may affect the effectiveness of condoms. Check with your pharmacist.

Getting it on – using condoms properly

To help protect against STIs, cover the penis with the condom before it touches the partner’s vagina, mouth or anus. Use a new and lubricated condom each time you have sex.

  • Check the expiry date on the condom packet. If this date has passed, throw the condom away and use one that hasn’t expired.
  • Open the packet carefully. Fingernails, rings and teeth can tear the condom.
  • Before the condom comes into contact with the penis, check that the condom is the right way up. Do this by pinching the top of the condom and rolling it down a little. It’s the right way up if it rolls down easily.
  • Continue pinching the top of the condom and roll it onto the hard penis all the way down to the base.
  • Apply a water-based lubricant (eg, KY Jelly, Wet Stuff, Sylk or Top Gel) to the condom. Oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline can damage condoms.
  • After ejaculating (coming) and when withdrawing, prevent semen from being spilt by holding the condom onto the base of the penis. Remove the used condom from the penis and wrap it tissue or toilet paper. Put it in the rubbish.

Pinch the top of the condom and check it is the right way up.

Roll the condom down onto the penis.

Apply lube.

The condom is on.

Look after your condoms

  • Store in a cool, dry place and keep away from heat.
  • Keep away from sunlight.
  • Check expiry or use-by date before use.
  • Use a water-based lube. Don’t use Vaseline, oils or body lotion – these weaken the rubber.

All condoms available in New Zealand must pass quality control tests.

You can get condoms from supermarkets, service stations, pharmacies, Family Planning and sexual health clinics, and through doctors’ prescriptions.

You can get safer sex oral dams from some Family Planning and sexual health clinics and pharmacies.

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