A condom guide for men who have sex with men

Our team talk about all things condom and answer some common condom questions.

Why should I wear one?

Condoms are your best defence against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the age of PrEP we hear lots of guys say “Well I’m on PrEP so I don’t need to use condoms”, but it’s important to remember that HIV isn’t the only STI out there. PrEP doesn’t protect against other STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, which can lead to health problems if left untreated.

Using condoms shows your partner that you not only care about your own health, but care about theirs too, which can make you seem more attractive and confident. Condoms can make sex more fun, with lots of different flavours and textures available. You can also relax, knowing your risk of STIs is pretty darn low, so you can enjoy sex a little more! For blow jobs, condoms are your best defence against STIs.

Don't forget to use condoms for oral sex too

STIs can be passed on through oral sex too. Syphilis is easily passed on through oral sex, but gonorrhoea and chlamydia can also be spread this way. The risk of HIV is lower through oral sex, but it's still possible.

There are lots of flavours available; keep it fresh with mint flavour or enjoy some indulgence with chocolate! They can make oral sex more fun because they taste nice. You can even experiment with using a flavoured lube with a flavoured condom for a taste sensation! Keep an eye out for special flavoured condom packs at our Men's Group or local venues!

If you're rimming someone, use a dam to protect yourself against infections. Read more about dams here.

Where can I get condoms from?

You can pick up free condoms and lube from our Men’s Group in Hanley every Wednesday! It’s a drop-in group so you’re more than welcome to just come for some condoms and leave, or you can stay and chat for a bit if you want too! You can register for a C-Card which gives you quick and easy access to free condoms in Stoke-on-Trent. You can also get free condoms from your local sexual health clinic. If you're out and about on the scene, Gossip (local LGBT+ club), regularly has free condoms available.

If you’re buying them online make sure they’re up to British health and safety standards by making sure they have these two kitemarks:

What if I have a latex allergy or my penis is too big/small for regular condoms?

We have condoms for all sizes (trim to extra-large) as well as latex-free condoms for those who have a latex allergy. It's important to use the right condom for you, so it's comfortable and is safe as possible. Take It Starts With Me's Condom Quiz to find a condom that suits you. We have flavoured condoms and super thin ones too so whatever size your penis, we’ve got you covered (literally)!

What about lube?

As we’re sure you’re aware, lube is essential to enjoyable anal sex (and is always a welcome addition to a hand job or blow job) so we advise keeping a good stock of lube alongside your condoms. Remember to keep topping it up if you're having a longer session, to reduce the friction and increase the fun! Good news – we supply free water-based lube as well as free condoms at our Men’s Group!

Water-based and silicone-based lubes are both safe to use with condoms, but don’t use oil-based lube. These make the latex in condoms more likely to break or tear.

They’re easy to put on, aren’t they?

Condoms are super easy to put on but lots of people don’t actually know how to put one on properly. If you don’t put it on properly it increases the chance of the condom breaking.

Before you start to put the condom on:

  • Check it is in date - You can find the expiry date printed on the wrapper. Check the packet isn't damaged

  • Check it for damage - If the wrapper is damaged, the condom might be too, so don't use it

If your condom is in date and good condition, put the condom on following the four steps below...

  1. Tear down from the serrated edge

  2. Check the condom is the right way round (tip facing up)

  3. Squeeze the tip

  4. Roll the condom down to the base

...and don’t forget that STIs can be spread at any time during sex (oral or anal). Make sure you pop one on before you start.

How long do they last?

We know that condoms have an expiry date, but did you know that you may need to change them during sex? If sex lasts longer than 30 minutes, pop a new condom on. After half an hour, they become more likely to break. They're free from us so you can use as many as you need!

It's also a good idea to change your condom when going to anal to oral sex. Infections can be easily spread by using the same condom for different types of sex.

Where should I keep them?

Heat, moisture, friction and light can affect the quality of condoms and make them less effective. This means you shouldn't keep them in your wallet or pocket for a long period of time because they can get pretty warm, damaging the condom. Pockets (especially back pockets) will deal with a lot of friction from walking around and sitting down. Condoms in wallets will experience friction from opening the wallet and brushing against cash and cards.

A bedside drawer is one of the best places to store your condoms as it's usually cool, dry and away from sunlight. Obviously, if you're heading out and want to take condoms with you, you can pop one in your wallet for a short period of time. Take care not to damage it or leave it in there too long. If you can, use a separate wallet compartment for the condom.

Do I still need an STI test if I use condoms?

Condoms are your best defence against most STIs. They are 98% effective when used correctly, but some STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact.

Public Health England recommends that men who have sex with men should have a full sexual health check-up once a year. If someone is having sex with different partners, it's advised  they get a check-up every three months.

Visit a sexual health clinic for a check-up if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • discharge from the tip of your penis

  • blisters

  • itching or lumps in your genital area

  • pain when peeing

If you've not got any symptoms but would like an STI test, you may be able to order one online at