Safer Sex: condoms and lube

We use the term ‘safer sex’, as no sexual activity can be 100% risk free.  However for anal sex, if condoms are used correctly with plenty of water based lube, the majority of STIs can be prevented.

put it on condom

Don’t forget that infections can also be passed on through oral sex, so barriers such as (dental dams or) condoms can be used for extra protection.

Additionally, regular sexual health check-ups are the best way of looking after your sexual health.  If you are having sex with different sexual partners we recommend a check-up once every six months.

Some tips for condom use:

  • Find a brand that suits you and experiment with types, e.g. size, shape, and flavour.
  • Store the condoms in an appropriate place (away from sunlight and heat).
  • Make sure the condoms haven’t passed their sell-by-date
  • Check that there is a ‘CE’ or ‘Kitemark’ on the packet.
  • Open the pack carefully, making sure that you do not damage the condom.
  • Only use one condom at a time – if the condom comes off during sex, discard it and use a new one.
  • Use a new condom each time and for each sexual partner.
  • Apply the condom before any sexual contact.
  • Use plenty of water based lube – do not use oil based lube as this will destroy the condom.
  • Condoms should also be used on sex toys.

More information about lube:

  • Do not use oil-based lubricants such as baby oil, petroleum jelly, body lotions, massage oils or butter during sex as they damage latex condoms.
  • Use water-based lube such as the ones provided in LGBT Foundation’s Safer Sex Packs.


  • If you are using medication which needs to be applied to either the penis or anus, it may damage the condom –please check with your doctor or pharmacist first beforehand.
  • If you have unprotected sex or you feel your method of protection has failed, contact your Sexual Health Clinic or GP for emergency contraception (if relevant) and STI advice as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours, but no later than 72 hours. If you feel you may have been exposed to HIV you may be able to access PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) but you need to do this as soon as possible after exposure.
  • Do not re-use condoms! If you do re-use a condom, it will not offer the same protection against pregnancy and STIs and it will be more likely to break. The Men’s Safer Sex Packs provided by LGBT Foundation contain two condoms and two sachets of water based lube.