Many of us got the old banana-and-condom demo back in seventh grade sex ed class, but there’s a lot more to consider when using a condom.

First, though, let’s cover the basics: A condom is a barrier method of safer sex, meaning that it not only helps prevent pregnancy, but also helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Usually made out of latex (but also sometimes polyurethane for people who are allergic to latex), a condom is rolled onto the penis before sexual activity. Don’t forget to squeeze the tip of the condom before rolling it on—this will get all the air out, making it a safer method. When removing the condom, hold it from the rim to avoid spills, and don’t forget to wash up afterwards.

Where I went to middle school, this was about where we stopped, giggling and blushing all the way. Luckily, Sarah Bowers, Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center coordinator and condom aficionada, filled me in on more of the how to’s of condom usage. “Use a lot of lube as a general rule, but especially when using condoms,” Bowers advises. “It provides more sensation, and also the condom is less likely to tear, making it safer,” she said.

The fit of the condom is important also, Bowers said. “Make sure the condom is snug, but not cutting off blood circulation, but that it’s also not falling off.”

Before getting started, always check the expiration date on the condom, Bowers recommends. And bad news for all of you folks out there with a condom in your wallet: heat and condoms don’t get along. “Make sure that condoms are kept out of sunlight and in a cool place—they get brittle and dry when warm,” Bowers said. She recommends keeping condoms from being stored directly on the body, and instead advises keeping them in a purse or backpack.

So now that you know where to keep your rubbers, what do you do with the darned things when you’re through with them? “Don’t flush them down the toilet,” Bowers sagely advises. “They clog the toilet, and then your roommate will definitely know what’s going on.”

Bowers also notes the importance of washing the genital area (of both partners) before putting on a second condom “to reduce fluid transfer.”

And a final tip for this how to: never reuse a condom! Sure, you’re a thrifty, economically-minded poor college student, but that’s why several locations all over campus, including the SAC, offer free condoms for everyone! “We always have free condoms,” Bowers said, “and we even leave some outside our office door so that you can swing by anytime and pick one up.”

Plus, you’ve got lots of free choices. “In terms of condoms, we have high-sensitivity Durex, non-latex condoms for people who are allergic to latex, colored condoms to change the color of your anatomy, and kiss-of-mint condoms just for oral sex,” said Bowers. “We also have water-based lube, latex gloves for protecting the hands for sexual play, and latex dental dams in strawberry, vanilla, grape, banana, and mint flavors.”
Well, you learn something new every day.

For more info on how to use a condom, or other unbiased sexual information, contact the SAC at 650-6117 or visit the office in Viking Union 517.