Condoms used with water-based or silicone-based lube are the surest way to protect you or your partner against HIV and many other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms, when used effectively, will prevent exposure to HIV as they will stop HIV-infected body fluids (cum or anal mucus of an HIV-positive man) from coming into contact with the mucous membranes (in the arse, the foreskin, urethra and head of the penis) of his partner.

What condoms should I use?

  • Standard strength condoms, used properly, are just as reliable for anal sex as thicker ones [1]
  • Condoms carrying the British Standard kitemark are checked for quality
  • Everyone's cock is different, so shop around until you find the kind that fits you best.

What if I’m allergic to latex?

  • Non-latex condoms - like Durex Avanti, Mates Skyn and Pasante Unique - are useful for men who are allergic to latex or choose to use oil-based lubricants
  • They are more expensive than the latex ones but are considerably cheaper online
  • Mates Skyn and Pasante Unique condoms are also among the thinnest available, and are specially designed to adhere to your skin and increase sensitivity
  • Hypoallergenic condoms are designed to minimise any allergic reaction to latex.

What condoms shouldn’t I use?

  • Studies have found that condoms with nonoxynol-9 (N-9), a spermicidal lubricant, can irritate the lining of the arse [2]
  • This could lead to an increased risk of HIV transmission if a condom broke or you later fucked without a condom
  • Most condom manufacturers in the UK have stopped using N-9, but they are still sold online and abroad, so it's worth checking
  •  If you are unsure, avoid any condoms that are described as 'spermicidally lubricated'.

What if I cum too quickly?

  • There are also specialist condoms available which can help with various problems. 'Delay' condoms help postpone premature ejaculation, and contain a mild local anaesthetic which numbs some of the nerves in the penis, making it temporarily less sensitive.

How do I put on a condom correctly?

Step 1: When your cock is hard, take the condom out of the wrapper carefully using your fingers. Using your teeth to tear the packet could damage the condom. Squeeze the air out of the teat on the tip of the condom (if there is one) and put it over the end of your cock. Don't stretch it and then pull it over your cock as this will make it more likely to break.

Step 2: Roll it down the length of your cock – the further down it goes the less likely it is to slip off. Put some water-based or silicone-based lubricant over your condom-covered cock. Put plenty of lube around his arse too. Don't put any lube on your cock before you put the condom on, as this can make it slip off.

Step 3: Check the condom occasionally while fucking to ensure it hasn't come off or split. If you fuck for a long time you will need to keep adding more lube. When you pull out, hold on to the condom and your cock at the base, so that you don't leave it behind. Pull out before your cock goes soft.

Some newer condoms are used slightly differently; Pasante Unique condoms for example have special tabs which you hold to help you slide the condom down your cock. Clear instructions can be found on the packs.

What lube should I use?
When you don't use enough lube, or use the wrong kind, the likelihood of condom failure is increased, making transmission of HIV and other STIs possible.

You should use:

  • Water-based lubes (e.g. K-Y, Wet Stuff and ID Glide) 
  • silicone-based lubes (Eros Bodyglide and Liquid Silk).

You shouldn’t use:

  • Oil-based lubricants like cooking oil, moisturisers, sun lotions, baby oil, butter, Crisco, Elbow Grease, etc 
  • It can also cause latex condoms to break
  • However, they can be used with non-latex condoms, like Durex Avanti, Mates Skyn or Pasante Unique
  • Don’t use spit as it dries up quickly and increases the chance of your condom tearing.

When do condoms fail?

Reasons why condoms may fail:

  • Not knowing how to put on a condom
  • Unrolling the condom before putting it on your cock
  • Using oil-based lube including some creams and sprays sold as anal relaxants to help make anal sex easier
  • Not using enough lube
  • Using lube in the wrong places i.e. on your cock before putting on the condom or not putting lube up and around his arse
  • Having a long session using the same condom
  • Using an expired condom (always check the expiry date on the package)
  • Using the wrong size of condoms.

Where can I get condoms from?
Most gay bars, clubs and saunas in London are part of the Freedoms condom scheme, so you can pick up free condom and lube packs if you need them in an emergency. But the free scheme isn't able to supply enough condoms for every time a gay man in London gets lucky, so rather than go without, it's sensible to buy your own condoms and keep your own supply.

Most HIV and sexual health clinics also provide condoms when you go for a sexual health check-up or an HIV test. You can purchase condoms at any high street chemist, and many newsagents and late night petrol stations.

You can also get great value by buying your supplies online




Read more
1 Golombok S, Harding R, Sheldon J. An evaluation of a thicker versus a standard condom with gay men. AIDS, 2001;15(2):245-250.
2 Phillips DM, Sudol KM, Taylor CL, Guichard L, Elsen R, Maguire, RA. Lubricants containing N-9 may enhance rectal transmission of HIV and other STIs. Contraception, 2004;70(2):107-110..