Condoms and Dental Dams

Why use a condom?

Internal condom

External condom

Condom negotiation

Dental dam

Lube

You can order free condoms here.

Why use a condom? (back to top)

Condom and condom wrapper

Okay, we are going to be completely honest with you, the best way to protect yourself is to use condoms every time you have sex. That's right, every time you have oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Condoms lower your risk of getting a STBBI and preventing unplanned pregnancy.

Not convinced? Here are some things to think about:

  • You can't tell if someone has a STBBI based on how they look, where they're from, or who they have slept with.
  • Think it's awkward asking your partner to wear a condom? Imagine finding out you've got an STBBI...
  • Using a condom provides you with peace of mind!
  • People with STBBIs often don't know they're infected, so it's best to protect yourself.

If you need to order condoms visit our Sex It Smart page, and have them delivered right to your door, and if you need further information on how to use condoms visit our Condoms and Dental Dams page.

What is the internal condom? (back to top)

The internal condom is a soft, thin, loose-fitting polyurethane sheath with two flexible rings at each end, which  is inserted vaginally or anally. The inner ring at the closed end of the condom is used to insert the condom and to keep it in place. The outer ring at the open-end of the condom stays outside the vagina or anus, and partially covers and protects the lips of the vagina or the edges of anus. The internal condom is 79 to 95% effective if used correctly.

How does the internal condom work?

The internal condom prevents semen (sperm) from entering the vagina or anal canal, and  prevents the exchange of bodily fluids between both partners. The internal condom protects against unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBI) including HIV.

Who can use the internal condom?

People who engage in vaginal and/or anal sex.

How do I use the internal condom?

  1. Find a comfortable position. Stand with one foot up on a chair, sit with knees apart, or lie down.
  2. Be sure the inner ring is at the bottom, closed-end of the pouch.
  3. If you wish, add a drop of extra lubricant to the outer part of the vagina, anus and in the anal canal for more  comfort when you insert the condom.
  4. Hold the condom with the open end hanging down. While holding the outside of the pouch, squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger.
  5. Place your index finger between the thumb and middle finger and keep squeezing the inner ring. With the other hand, spread the labia (lips) of your vagina or anal edges, and insert it into the vagina or rectum.
  6. Slowly push the inner ring and the condom all the way up into the vagina or  anus and rectum with your index finger. You can go as deep as you are comfortable. Check to be sure that the inner ring is up just past the pubic bone for the vaginal site. The outer ring stays outside the body.
  7. Before intercourse, make sure the condom is not twisted and that the outside ring lies against the vulva or anus.
  8. You may want to add some lubricant to the partner's penis or toy to avoid having the condom slip off.
  9. During intercourse, side to side movement of the ring is normal, but if you feel the ring slip into the vagina or anal canal or the penis starts to enter underneath the condom, stop.
  10. After intercourse, the condom should be removed before you stand up. Squeeze and twist the outer ring to keep the sperm inside the condom. Pull out gently. Throw away in a trashcan.
  11. Use a new condom every time you have sex.

 What are the advantages, possible side-effects, or problems of the internal condom?

Advantages:

  • An individual can place it and has full control of its effectiveness, as it pertains to the prevention of unintended pregnancy, STBBIs including HIV
  • It adjusts well to the vagina or the anal canal
  • Non-latex
  • Compatible with oil-based products

 Possible side effects/problems:

  • Allergy to polyurethane and irritation
  • Slippage
  • Insertion difficulties
  • The inner ring may cause discomfort during sex

PLEASE NOTE:  Internal and external condoms should not be used together; use one or the other. If you use them together, you increase the chances of breaking or tearing the condoms.

What is the external condom? (back to top)

The external condom is a thin sheath that covers the penis. Most condoms are made of latex, although polyurethane, plastic, and lambskin condoms are available. A variety of external condoms are available: plain or reservoir-tipped, dry or lubricated, straight or shaped, smooth or textured, natural or brightly colored, and in many sizes. Free external condoms are available at the Sexual Health Centre, other community health centers, high school and university campuses. The external condom is 85 to 98% effective if used correctly.

Types of external condoms:

Latex

  • Most popular
  • Protects against sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs)
  • Can decrease the risk of pregnancy when used in combination with a birth control method

Polyurethane

  • Stronger than the latex condom
  • Transmits more body heat, allowing more sensitivity
  • Can be used with oil-based lubricants
  • Can be used by those who are sensitive or allergic to latex
  • More expensive than latex condoms
  • Provides protection against STBBIs and pregnancy similar to latex condoms 

Lambskin

  • Made from lamb intestines
  • Not recommended for protection against STBBIs
  • Can decrease the risk of pregnancy when used in combination with a birth control method

Condom demo

Not sure if you are using condoms properly? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

  1. Check the expiry date.
  2. Check the package (It should be sealed and not ripped)
  3. Put a drop of water-based lubricant or saliva in the tip of the condom for better sensation (oil-based lubricant can only be used with polyurethane condoms).
  4. Place the rolled condom over the tip of the erect penis.
  5. Leave a space at the tip of the condom for semen collection if the condom does not already have a reservoir at the tip.
  6. If not circumcised, pull back the foreskin with one hand.
  7. Pinch the air out of the tip.
  8. Unroll the condom over the erect penis, all the way down to the base of the penis.
  9. Smooth out any air bubbles.
  10. Apply lubricant outside of condom.
  11. Remove the condom immediately after ejaculation ("cumming"). Hold the condom on the base of the penis while pulling out. Pull out before the penis softens.
  12. Throw the condom in the trash.
  13. Use a new condom every time you have sex or when  sharing sex toys with your partner(s).

How does the external condom work?

The external condom acts as a barrier that prevents contact between bodily fluids (semen or vaginal secretions) and the sexual partners. The external condom protects against unintended pregnancy and STBBIs including HIV.

Who can use the external condom?

People engaging in anal, oral, or vaginal sex.

What are the advantages, possible side-effects/problems of the internal condom?

 Advantages:

  • Easily accessible and affordable
  • It can be used in combination with other methods of birth control
  • Can decrease the risk of pregnancy when used in combination with a birth control method
  • Latex and polyurethane condoms protect against most STBBIs including HIV

 Possible side effects/problems:

  • Allergy to latex and irritation
  • Spermicidal condoms may cause irritation to the genitals
  • Slippage or breakage
  • Decreased sensation or loss of erection

Remember:

Any infection in the genital area may increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.

Practicing safer sex, by using latex or polyurethane condoms and oral dams for oral, anal, or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of STBBIs.

Condom negotiation (back to top)

It might not be easy to negotiate with your partner about using condoms. Here are some tips, you may find helpful:

Timing is everything:

We get it! It is hard to talk about using condoms when you are "in the heat of the moment." Try bringing up the subject of condoms before you're even thinking about having sex. It's easier to discuss when you are both relaxed.

Make your message clear:

Let your partner know that you care about your health and encourage him or her to do the same. Tell your partner about your expectations to use condoms. For example you may say, "I want to have sex with you, but I won't unless we use protection," or, "I have decided to use condoms because I don't want to risk getting a STBBI or becoming pregnant."

Make condom use fun:

It can be fun to use a condom! There are a variety of different condoms to try. Experiment with the size, shape, texture, and thickness. Condoms also come in awesome colours and flavours. Have fun finding out what suits you both. You can also make putting on a condom part of foreplay.

What if your partner says "no"?

Common excuses for not using condoms:

  • "Don't you trust me?"
  • "It's like having a shower while wearing a raincoat!"
  • "I am already using other contraception."
  • "It spoils the mood."
  • "I thought we loved each other."

We all want to please the person we care about, so being firm with your decision to use condoms may not always be easy. If your partner resists or is pressuring you, you need to repeat the message.

Follow through:

Following through on your decision is an ongoing process that may not be easy all the time. Once you have decided "No condom, no sex", you need to stick to your decision in spite of pressure from your partner.

Link to resource with condom negotiation conversation - Safe is Sexy! Please visit the I Respect Myself website for more information.

Dental dam (back to top)

A dental or “oral dam” is a thin, rectangular sheet of latex used during sex (oral-vaginal or oral-anal). The “dam” helps prevent sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs).

Store bought dental dams are available, or you can make one yourself out of a condom. Here's how:

  1. Cut off the tip of the condom (closed end)
  2. Cut off the ring of the condom (opened end)
  3. Cut down the length of the condom

Voila! You have a latex rectangle like a store-bought dental dam.

How to use a dental dam for safer oral sex?

Dental dams lower the risk of STBBIs by preventing the sharing of body fluids.

Dental dam instructions:

  • Apply a water based lubricant to vaginal or anal areas before putting the dam in place. This may increase sensation and prevent friction during oral sex.
  • Before oral sex, place the dental dam flat over the vagina or anus, completely covering the area.
  • Hold the dam in place during oral sex, and don't let it flip over. Some people mark one side with a pen to keep track.
  • Use each dam only once, then throw it out, and wash your hands.
  • Be sure to use a new dam if switching between oral-anal and oral-vaginal sex.

Keep dental dams away from direct sunlight in a cool dry place (just like condoms).

Lube (back to top)

Safe to use with a latex condom:

  • Water and silicone-based lubricants (check package insert for confirmation)
  • Contraceptive foam and film
  • Glycerin USP
  • Egg white
  • Saliva
  • Water
  • Vaginal moisturizers

Unsafe to use with a latex condom:

  • Baby oil, mineral oil, suntan oil, fish oil, coconut oil/butter, palm oil
  • Olive oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil
  • Margarine, butter
  • Hemorrhoid or burn ointments
  • Petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Vaginal creams (e.g., Monistat, Estrace, Femstat, Vagisil, Premarin)
  • Some sexual lubricants (e.g., Elbow Grease, Hot Elbow Grease, Shaft)

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