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How do I make condoms less awkward?

Using condoms can feel awkward, especially when you’re just starting to become sexually active. Condoms are an important part of practicing safe sex, but introducing them into your relationship takes some finesse. The good news is there are several strategies you can use to make condoms a normal, hassle-free part of your sex life.

Why are condoms awkward?

There are a few common reasons why condoms can feel awkward:

  • You’re not used to them. If you haven’t used condoms much before, dealing with the logistics can feel strange and interrupt the flow of sex.
  • You’re worried about killing the mood. Bringing up condoms or pausing to put one on can feel unsexy.
  • You’re self-conscious about how you look and perform. Condoms can sometimes change sensations during sex or how an erection looks and feels.
  • You or your partner has had some bad experiences. Maybe condoms have led to erection difficulties, irritation, or slippage issues in the past.
  • You associate them with stigma or shame. Some people connect condoms with promiscuity, unplanned pregnancy, or disease.

These factors may make the idea of using condoms intimidating. But the more you do it, the more natural it will begin to feel.

Tips for introducing and applying condoms smoothly

Here are some tips to help make condoms a seamless part of your sexual experience:

Talk about it ahead of time

Have a conversation with your partner about condoms before you’re in a sexual situation. Make it clear that you will be using condoms consistently to protect your health. Discussing it outside the bedroom eliminates some of the awkwardness and shows you’re both on the same page.

Make condoms readily available

Keep condoms in whatever location you usually have sex – like a bedside table or bathroom drawer. That way they’re on hand whenever you need them. Having them already accessible prevents you from having to interrupt a heated moment to search for one.

Incorporate applying the condom into foreplay

Rather than treat it like a separate step, make putting on the condom a sexy part of foreplay. You can put it on each other in a playful, flirtatious way. This helps ensure it doesn’t feel like an unnatural interruption.

Focus on pleasure, not performance

If you notice performance anxiety creeping in, shift the focus to pleasure rather than the mechanics of penetration. Take time to keep enjoying each other’s bodies through kissing, touching, oral sex, or using vibrators. This helps take the emphasis off maintaining an erection.

Use lots of lube

Condoms can cause more friction than skin-on-skin contact. Applying water-based lube liberally inside and outside the condom enhances sensation for both partners during penetration. It also prevents the condom from slipping off.

Try different condoms to find the right fit

Sizes, shapes, textures, and thicknesses vary between condom brands and types. Experiment to find options that feel best for you and your partner. Getting the right fit helps prevent issues like slippage or loss of erection due to discomfort.

Communicate and stay focused on each other

Check in with each other about what feels good during sex when using a condom. Provide positive reinforcement about how much you enjoy being together. Staying connected through communication ensures the emphasis remains on intimacy and pleasure.

Keep practicing

It may take some time to get completely comfortable with condoms. But the more you make them a consistent part of your sexual routine, the more confidence you’ll gain. With experience, condoms can seamlessly fade into the background.

Troubleshooting common condom problems

While it takes a bit of trial and error to get used to condoms, some persistent issues can come up. Here’s how to troubleshoot some common problems:

Trouble maintaining an erection with condoms

Issue Solution
Performance anxiety Use relaxation techniques, take penetrative sex off the table temporarily, and focus on other pleasurable activities without the pressure of “performing.”
Reduced sensation Add lube inside and outside the condom, experiment with different materials and designs, focus on areas other than penetration, or masturbate with a condom to get used to the feeling.
Condom doesn’t fit right Try a different size, shape, or brand that fits your body better.
Medical issue Talk to a doctor in case an underlying medical or psychological problem needs treatment.

Condoms drying out during sex

Reapply water-based lube frequently, both inside and outside the condom. Switch to a thicker condom or use a condom compatible with oil-based lube if needed. Avoid using oil-based lubes with latex condoms.

Condom breaks

This can happen due to using the wrong lube, improper application and storage, or the condom not fitting right. Check the expiration date on condoms and store them properly. Leave some empty space at the tip and roll the condom all the way down. Apply lube externally too. If breakage keeps happening, switch brands or sizes.


It’s normal for condoms to feel a bit awkward when you start using them. But a little preparation and practice goes a long way. Have open communication with your partner, make condoms readily available, incorporate them into foreplay, use lube, and find the right fit. Stay focused on each other and the pleasure you share. Before long, condoms will start to feel like second nature.