When it comes to safe sex, the condom is iconic. Whether it’s learning how to use one on a banana in Sex Ed, your first awkward sexual experience, or keeping one in your travel bag “just in case,” condoms are the item we think of to prevent pregnancy and protect against STIs. But did you know there’s even more they can do? Condoms are just the gift that keeps on giving.
0. (The one that made them famous) On a penis during penetrative sex
First on the list is a classic — use a condom on a penis during sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of STIs and HIV. Did you know the earliest condoms were made of animal intestines? They would not have protected against STIs, but were made to prevent pregnancy. Condoms made of rubber didn’t arrive until the mid-1800s and most condoms today are made from latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene (although you can still get condoms made from lamb intestines — “Lambskin” condoms!). Condoms are designed to create a flexible barrier and prevent skin-to-skin genital contact between sexual partners. They can be used for any type of sex involving a penis (including vaginal, anal, and oral sex).
1. On a sex toy shared between partners
Sex toys are great for using solo, and they can also be a fun way to spice up your sex life with a partner! However, sex toys can transmit viruses and bacteria when they are shared, so when you’re using one with a partner you are not monogamous with, or if neither of you have been tested for STIs or HIV since having sex with previous partners, you can put a condom on the toy to protect against STIs. STIs live in bodily fluids so only use the toy on one partner at a time. Replace the condom on the toy with a new one if you want to use it on the other partner!
2. Transform it into a dental dam for oral sex
Dental dams are small sheets of latex that work similarly to condoms — they create a barrier between a person’s mouth and their partner’s genitals during oral sex to protect against the transmission of an STI like herpes. Dental dams can be hard to find so you can always turn a condom into a dental dam in a pinch! Remove the condom from its wrapper and unroll it. Then, cut off the tip of the condom and the bottom of the condom so you are left with a tube of latex. Finally, cut a slit down the side so the tube becomes a sheet. Voilà! You’ve got a dental dam.
3. A stocking stuffer for your flirtiest friend
Nothing says that you care quite like the gift of safer sex during the holiday season. Between holiday parties, twinkly lights, cold weather, and cozy cocktails, love (or at least, lust) is in the air. Make sure your friends make it safely to the new year by slipping a condom into their stockings this season.
4. Add it to your carry-on… you never know 😉
Post-pandemic travel is making a comeback and even if your vacation plans only involve museums, hikes, and landmarks, it never hurts for a traveler to be prepared for every kind of emergency.
5. Make a stress ball for squeezing while you’re watching the news
The headlines have been a source of anxiety for most of us over the past couple—ok, maybe the past several years. Turn a condom into a stress-reliever! Fill one with flour, sand, toothpaste, Orbeez — whatever you think might be fun to squish while staying informed.
6. Teach your kids (or nieces, nephews, cousins, the family pet…) about safe sex
Seeing a condom placed on a banana is a familiar pop culture reference for most of us, but not everyone got the chance to see a condom demonstration outside of the movies. Only 24 states require sex education to be taught in public schools and even then, the information taught is not always medically accurate or inclusive. Help spread the word about the importance of safer sex to the young people in your life (with their parent or guardian’s consent, of course).
7. Use for icing or warming sore muscles
Most condoms are made of latex, the same material that’s used to make medical gloves and balloons. Since condoms are designed to keep from tearing while still being very thin, they are remarkably durable — fill one with water and freeze it to use as an ice pack or fill with warm water for a soothing heating pad.