This is going to sound like a dumb question… but how do I correctly use a condom? And do you recommend any specific brands or condoms (spermicide, ribbed, ultra thin, latex)?

That isn’t a dumb question. It’s actually a really smart question if you want to prevent pregnancy and/or protect yourself from STDs. Condoms can be confusing at first, but using them is really easy with a little practice.

Check out our video on how to use a condom.

More of a reader than a watcher? Here’s what you need to do:

Get the condom out before any genital-to-genital contact happens. You need to use a condom the entire time you have sex – start to finish, or else you’re not protected from STDs.

Check the expiration date on the package to make sure your condom isn’t out of date. Expired condoms are more likely to break. Make sure there aren’t any holes or tears in the plastic or aluminum wrapping, either. Open it up carefully, making sure you don’t tear the condom.

Place the rolled condom on the top of the hard penis. If there’s foreskin (i.e., if the penis is uncircumcised), you may want to pull it back before unrolling the condom. Pinch the air out of the tip of the condom with one hand while unrolling it onto the shaft of the penis with the other. Leave a half-inch space at the tip to collect semen (also know as ejaculate or cum). Some condoms have lubricant on them already, and some don’t. If the one you’re using doesn’t, you should put water or silicone-based lube on it.

Before taking the condom off, pull out before the penis softens. Don’t spill the semen – hold the condom against the base of the penis while you pull out. Once the penis is away from the vagina, take the condom off and throw it away in the trash.

It doesn’t matter what brand of condom you get as long as the packaging says it protects against STDs and pregnancy. Try out a few different kinds – latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, ultra-thin, ribbed, and find out what you and your partner like best.

-Emily at Planned Parenthood