It’s amazing how many queer men are in need of condom tips. Yes, even guys who have been sexually active for years — even decades — aren’t always aware of all the tools in the “safer sex arsenal,” which has included latex condoms since the 1920s!
When used alongside other safer sex practices, which include PrEP, PeP and good ol’ common sense, condoms can be a great way of preventing STIs for queer men. And since knowledge is never a bad thing, Hornet has decided to share some simple, straightforward condom tips with our users.
Joe Kort, PhD, is a certified sex therapist and clinical director of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health in Royal Oak, Michigan. He’s published three books on topics including male sexual identity, relationships and sexual fluidity. And he’s also a proud member of the LGBTQ community himself, so he knows a thing or two about sex between queer men.
Here are 5 of Dr. Joe Kort’s condom tips for queer men:
CONDOM TIPS #1: First and foremost, it’s important to put on a condom correctly.
“I’m a huge safe sex advocate; that’s why I want to make sure guys know how to put on a condom correctly,” says Dr. Kort. “It may seem like common sense, but life-changing mistakes can result if you don’t put it on the right way.”
First among his condom tips, check the expiration date. If your condom is expired, don’t use it. It probably has dried out, is brittle and will break easily. “Do you really want to take that chance using an expired condom?” he asks.
When opening the condom, use your fingers to tear it open. Do not use anything sharp like your teeth or scissors. You can damage the condom. You can add some lubricant if you want, but only water or silicone-based lubes. Lotion or oil-based lubricants can weaken and break a latex condom. And don’t use too much lubricant; the condom will fall off if you use too much. Just a few drops will work effectively. You also can add a drop or two of lubricant in the tip of the condom to increase your pleasure, Dr. Kort finds. He also advises, “the anal canal is extremely absorbent, which means water-based lubes dry up quickly and the condom can break easily.”
Put the condom on when you are erect. If you try to put it on sooner, it won’t go on properly and you risk having it slide off during penetration.
Place the condom on the head of the erect penis and make sure the rolled-up ring is on the outside and tip is up. Leave a little space at the tip for you to ejaculate and to help prevent breakage. If the condom is on too tight, it not only can break, but it also can cause fluids to rise up the sides of the condom and leak out. Gently squeeze the tip of the condom and hold it as you unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis. If the condom doesn’t unroll easily, it could be damaged, old or on backwards. Get a new condom. It is OK to have any extra condom length rolled up at the base of your penis.
After ejaculation, take the condom off right away while you are still erect. Hold the condom in place and withdraw the penis. Lingering after ejaculation might be tempting, but when the penis goes soft, the condom can drop off. If you decide you are ready to go for round two, put on a new condom; the same one isn’t going to work.
Dr. Kort reminds condom users: “Make sure you store unused condoms in a cool, dry place. Your wallet, back pocket and glove compartment are places where prolonged heat can damage your condom.”
If you want to see a video demonstration of how to put on a condom, Trojan produced a good one. You can watch it here.
CONDOM TIPS #2: Find the right condom for you.
Dr. Kort points out that it’s important to make sure you are wearing the right-sized condom. If it is too tight, it will break, and if it is too large, it could slip off or leak fluids. In either case, you and your partner are not protected from STIs. It’s easy to determine the right size, he notes. Just measure your erection. One easy way is to wrap a measuring tape around the thickest part of the erect penis, but not too tightly or too loosely.
“The girth of your penis is more important than the length because the condom cannot adjust to allow for a thicker or thinner penis,” Dr. Kort notes. “A condom that is too long can be rolled down at the base, and a condom that is too short still offers adequate protection if it fits the girth.”
If you don’t want to take the time to measure — which can be fun in itself, Dr. Kort laughs — “You can read the box for some general information on what size to buy.” On its boxes, Trojan explains measurements well, he finds.
Look for a standard size if your girth is between 2 and 2.05 inches. If your girth is greater than 2.05, choose the magnum or XL size. “Don’t buy big just to feed your ego,” he says. “If the condom is too big, it probably will fall off and you risk losing protection.”
Choose a small fit if your girth measures less than 2 inches. The box will typically say “snugger fit.”
“Remember, do not follow the one-size-fits-all theory; you could get yourself in trouble with that thinking,” Dr. Kort advises.
According to a study by Trojan, most people spend about seven seconds at the store choosing a condom. “Don’t you want this experience to be the best it can be?” Dr. Kort asks. “Invest a little more time in making your condom choices. It is well worth it when you get in bed.”
CONDOM TIPS #3: Choose a condom that you like and that gives you the most pleasure.
“Begin by trying different ones to see which brands, styles and features feel the best for you and provide you the most enjoyment,” Dr. Kort says.
He finds ultra-thin condoms seem to give the greatest pleasure because they are the closest to a condom-free feel. And thinner doesn’t mean less protection, he has found.
Here are just a few other choices to check out:
- Glow-in-the-dark condoms: they contain a safe pigment that starts to glow and can make for a fun surprise.
- Flavored condoms: there are so many to choose from — chocolate, vanilla, grape, orange, strawberry, and many more. The color matches the flavor. “And they can bring some unexpected and added pleasure to oral sex,” Dr. Kort says.
- Studded or textured condoms: they are shaped and textured to add stimulation and increase your pleasure.
- Warming condoms: these contain a warming lubricant that enhances the experience for both partners.
- Pleasure-shaped condoms: they have enlarged tips that give more friction. The extra latex stimulates the nerve endings at the tip of the penis. Trojan Twisted condoms have a winding, twisting shape allowing you to have more vigorous action.
- Country colors: want to display your country’s colors proudly? You can find tri-colored condoms featuring the national colors of many countries.
- Holiday condoms: for Halloween, you can “treat” your partner to a black and orange condom; and you can celebrate joyfully at Christmas with a red and green condom. And remember to surprise your partner with a special Valentine’s Day gift of pink and red condoms.
- Edible condoms: you roll it on and eat it off. But these do not provide protection against STIs or pregnancy, Dr. Kort warns. Always read the label of any condoms you purchase to make sure they are FDA-approved, and they offer the protection you are looking for, Dr. Kort advises. Most condoms sold in the United States are made of latex, which the FDA considers the most effective condom to use for reducing the spread of STIs. If you have latex allergies, polyurethane condoms are a wise choice, he adds.
CONDOM TIPS #4: Change your attitude about condoms.
If you’ve had a bad experience with condoms in the past, finding them a turn off instead of a turn on, Dr. Kort has some advice to change those disappointing memories:
First, place the condom on in a sensual way. Your partner can use his mouth and tongue to increase arousal. You may find some of your own creative ways to make this experience even more pleasurable.
Make sure you are using the condom that gives you the most satisfaction. Choosing the wrong condom can ruin the experience.
Try to relax. Sometimes, after putting on a condom, you clench up and your muscles get tight and stiff, which removes any chance for a fun and exciting experience.
CONDOM TIPS #5: Have a conversation with your partner about safer sex before you have sex.
Dr. Kort offers this final advice: Young men who have sex with men are among the groups with the fastest growing rates of HIV. It especially is important for this population — teenagers included — to use condoms (and all methods of safer sex) for protection.
Have the conversation long before you engage in sexual activity, he urges. Do you both agree on using a condom? Do you both agree on protected sex? These are important questions that can make your break your sexual experience … and your relationship.
Now go out and put these condom tips to good use!