Trade Sexual Health

Free, confidential health advice, information,
services & support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual
and trans communities of Leicester,
Leicestershire & Rutland

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Condoms are still the best and the easiest way of keeping your sexual health as safe as possible.

Using condoms is the most effective way of lowering the risks you take in your sex life. In terms of success rates condoms are one of the highest methods of preventing sexually transmitted infections; including HIV.

There are different types of condoms for different types of sex. Flavoured condoms are mainly used for oral sex. For penetrative sex, such as vaginal or anal sex, flavoured condoms can be used though they may cause irritation to the lining of the anus or vagina. When taking part in penetrative sex it is best to use a regular condom, like the ones provided within Trade’s safer sex packs.

Studies have shown that extra strong condoms are not necessary for anal sex; a regular condom will be fine, providing the condom is used properly.

Does size matter?

Condoms now come in different sizes and styles, e.g. trim, regular, large, extra-large, ribbed, to name a few. It’s important to make sure that the condom you use fits correctly. Condoms that are too loose can slip off during sex, whilst those that are too tight can be uncomfortable and cause the condom to break.

When looking at correct condom size it’s girth (the width of your penis) not length that’s important.

Size Chart:
1 – Penis circumference in MM
2 –Nominal width on condom packs in MM

Slim: 1: 98 2: 49
Regular: 1:104 2: 54
Large: 1: 120  2: 56
XL: 1: 130  2: 58-62
XXL: 1: 140+  2: 64-69

Experiment and use the best one for you. If you have any questions or concerns contact the Trade office on 01162541747 or go here to order your safer sex pack.

How to use a condom

If you’d like more information on how to use a condom, have a look at our condom demonstration video here.


  • Do not use grease, oils, lotions, or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to make the condom slippery. These substances can make the condom break. Use only jelly or cream that does not have oil in it.
  • Use a new condom each time you have sex.
  • Only use a condom once.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not use a condom that may be old or damaged.

Do not use a condom if:

  • The package is broken.
  • The condom is brittle or dried out.
  • The color is uneven or has changed.
  • The condom is unusually sticky.

1. Check for CE or kite mark, and that the condom is still in date.

Squeeze the condom to one side through the foil and tear the packet open - this way you will avoid damaging the condom.

2. Make sure your penis is fully erect before putting on the condom.

3. Squeeze the teat so that there is no air left in it - this means that when you ejaculate the sperm can fill the teat (if there is air in it, it may burst!).

4. Still holding the teat, roll the condom downwards on to the penis.

5. Ensure you use a new condom every half an hour if having penetrative sex, or use a new condom if using a sex toy from one person to another.

Use plenty of lubricant (information on lubricant on the website) on the outside of the condom, avoid getting any lubricant on the penis or sex toy before the condom goes on as this makes it more likely to slip off.

6. After ejaculation, hold onto the base of the condom and withdraw carefully. Remove the condom by slowly unrolling it, taking care not to let any semen drip out. Wrap the condom up in a tissue or in the Trade condom pack bag and put it in the bin.

Although many people mistakenly assume that all men know how to correctly use condoms, incorrect use is common and is a major cause of condom failures.


Lubricant (lube) is used to enhance the experience of anal or vaginal penetrative sex. Without it the passive (person who is being penetrated) or active (person who is doing the penetrating) person may find it painful. The use of lube also means condoms are less likely to slip off or tear.

How is lube used?
Lube needs to go on the condom once it is on the erect penis or sex toy, and in and around the arse and vagina. Never put lubricant on the penis or sex toy before you put the condom on as this makes the condom more likely to slip off.

Water-based Lubes
These are the best choice, giving lasting lubrication without damage to the condom. Trade provides water-based lube in all its safer-sex packs. However, you can also buy lube from chemists, sex shops and supermarkets (you can order your own safer-sex packs here.

Brands available
There is a huge amount of differing types and varieties of lube that can be used safely with condoms. Everyone has their own preference, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the one that suits you best.

Here are a few different types, if you don’t know where to start:

Silicone Lubes
Silicone lubes are more expensive than water-based lube and are totally safe with condoms, but will damage silicone toys. They're harder to wash off and can stain sheets and clothes - but are good for long sessions.

Lubes for fisting
Fisting needs extra lubricant. Water-based lubes tend to dry quickly but a quick spray of water makes them slippery again. J-lube and Lubrifist (available from some gay shops or online) are water-based lubes popular with men who fist.

An American cooking product, like soft lard, is oil-based and will damage latex gloves and condoms.

Lubes to avoid
Spit (saliva) is not a good choice. It's hard to produce lots of it and it quickly dries, leaving no lubrication at all. Studies show using spit makes condoms more likely to break, tear or rip.

Oil-based Lubes
A condom can fall apart within seconds of contact with an oil-based lube, increasing the likelihood of getting HIV or an STI.

Avoid all of these oil-based lubes:

  • hand lotion
  • massage oil
  • sun cream
  • Vaseline
  • hair gel
  • soap
  • shower gel
  • cream
  • ice cream
  • butter
  • Crisco (cooking fat)
  • any cooking oil
  • anything with cream, oil, or grease in their name e.g. ID cream, Elbow grease, Baby oil.


Nonoxinal-9 is a spermicide (a chemical that kills sperm). It's sometimes added to condoms and lubes. Despite claims that it can kill HIV, Nonoynol-9 should be avoided; it irritates the inside of the arse or vagina, making it easier for HIV to be passed on.

Lubes and condoms will say on their packaging if they have Nonoxynol-9 in them. The condoms and lube provided by Trade are Nonoxynol-9 free.

Having penetrative sex using lube but without using condoms will NOT stop HIV from being passed on.

Dental Dams

Dental Dams are a barrier made from a silky thin sheet of natural latex. The dams that are provided free by Trade come in a range of flavours.

When used properly dental dams may help reduce the risk of catching or spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. However, they do not completely eliminate the risk.

During contact such as oral-anal (rimming) or oral-vaginal sex, lesions and various body fluids can transmit STIs - a dental dam should be used each time such contact occurs.

How to use a dam

  • Always check the expiry date before use.
  • Carefully remove the dam from the packaging, making sure that you do not damage the dam with sharp fingernails or jewellery as you squeeze the dam out.
  • Wet the anal or vaginal area with water-based lubricant.
  • Place the dam over the anal or vaginal area before having oral sex. Only lick one side of the dam.
  • Hold the dam in place during oral sex using your hands.
  • Do not lick the side of the dam which has been in contact with the anal or vaginal area (sexually transmitted infections can be present without any symptoms. Anyone who has ever had oral, anal or vaginal sexual contact may have unknowingly been exposed to STIs).
  • Wrap up the used dam and place it in the bin, do not flush it down the toilet.
  • Use a new dam if you switch between the anus and vagina.
  • Do not share dams.
  • Never use a dam more than once.
  • Do not use oil-based lubricants as they can damage latex dams.

Although dams offer protection, they are not 100% effective.


Gloves are a great barrier for any kind of penetration play involving fingers and hands. The most common gloves available are made from latex; these can be ordered from Trade here. If you’re allergic to latex then you can buy non-latex gloves from various pharmacies or order them from a range of websites.

You should always use water or silicone based lube if you use latex gloves, as oil based lubes can cause latex gloves to tear.

It is important to remember that if you are engaging in any form of fingering or fisting, make sure your hands are cleaned thoroughly; fingernails need to be cut very short and be smooth. Do not wear jewellery or watches and ensure you use plenty of lube.

Trust is vital for any kind of penetration, if you want to be fisted or fingered you should be able to say, hand on heart, that you trust the other person involved to look after you. Fisting is an extreme form of foreplay which, like other forms of sex, is not for everyone. Always remember it's about YOU, sex should be an enjoyable experience for both people involved, respecting each other’s boundaries, making sure the sex you have is as safe as you want it, and vice versa, is all part of having an enjoyable sex life.

Sexual health