Dear Alice,

I am a peer health educator at Texas Tech University and I am putting together a health fair on condom usage for students. The "Condom Olympics" will be held in a dorm. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for information my group could use or any suggestions on games that we could play to teach people how to use condoms correctly.

Dear Reader,

Bravo to you and your colleagues for your initiative and creativity. Since human error is the leading cause of prophylactic failures, demos on how to slide into (and out of) a condom are more important than most people realize. The ideas below are laid out as a "condom use 101" lesson plan, and can be used as a base of info from which you and others can lead workshops, write pamphlets, or "go for the gold."

First, consider your cast of condoms: spotlighting different brands, sizes, textures, colors, tastes, and lubricated vs. non-lubricated will make your presentation more meaningful to more in your audience. Some will have never held or smelled a condom, so before sending them to the fitting room, pass the little buggers around to let the unfamiliar know what they're getting into. Same goes for lube, and you might encourage taste testing flavored and lubricated condoms, as all condoms can be effective in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used for oral sex.

Demonstrating the surprising strength and elasticity of condoms is not only fun, but another great way to illustrate why condoms are so effective as a method of preventing pregnancy and most STIs. Give each of the attendees their own condom still in the wrapper, carefully open them together (with fingers, not with teeth or long fingernails that can weaken and puncture even the toughest rubber), and let the games begin:

  • Blow them up like balloons; the one with the most hot air wins.
  • Fill them up with water — it's hard to believe how much they can hold. Then commence the condom toss, which may get very wet.
  • Pull them over your head (but not over your nose and mouth!); they make lovely rain hats for opening ceremonies and Sunday brunches.
  • Don't care for hat-head? Then cut the ring off of the base of the condom and you've got yourself a new hair band, or one-fifth of the Olympics logo.

Now, please give it up for some ways that vividly instruct present and future condom wearers of the world — and those who love them — how to put 'em on, and keep 'em on:

Pinching about a half-an-inch at the tip to allow ejaculate a place to go, roll one:

  • Over a fist and down an arm
  • Down two, three, or four middle fingers
  • Down an upside down baseball bat
  • Onto an obviously phallic shampoo container
  • With your mouth — again, watch those teeth and braces 

And, depending on where you are and who's in the room:

  • Break out a reasonably-sized dildo for a more realistic lesson

Include these helpful pointers along the way:

  • Put a little lube inside the condom for a smoother glide down the penis.
  • Try to put condoms on erect, or somewhat erect, penises.
  • Smooth out any penis hair that could get yanked when the condom's going on and off.
  • Use condoms on sex toys to reduce transmission of dirt or microorganisms.
  • Keep condoms in places that are room temperature, as opposed to warmer climates, such as on a windowsill or on top of a radiator.
  • Check expiration dates on condom wrappers — especially the ones that have been living in sock drawers, night tables, and medicine cabinets.

Taking used condoms off may come more naturally, but remind participants to roll the condom back up the shaft of the penis, pulling it off gently as you get toward the tip to prevent semen spillage. Don't re-use one, and throw it away in the trash, not the toilet.

If you really want to wow 'em, convert a dry condom into a dam by unrolling one, trimming off the elastic ring and tip, and cutting along the length. The condom should open into a rectangle, and can be placed over clitorises and anuses during oral sex.

Who would have thought that condoms could be so much fun? And, there's more where this came from in many of the archived Q&As listed below.

"Break a leg," not a condom,


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