How To Teach About Using Condoms

  • Condoms  are known to help greatly reduce the transmission of STIs. Yet condom use among adolescents continues to be inconsistent and use decreases with age. When it comes to teaching about using condoms, the following learning objectives have been adapted from the  National Sexuality Education Standards.

    Middle School

    • Explain the health benefits, risks and effectiveness rates of condoms.
    • Examine how alcohol and other substances, friends, family, media, society and culture influence decisions about engaging in sexual behaviors.
    • Demonstrate the use of effective communication and negotiation skills about the use of condoms.
    • Describe the steps to using both types of condoms correctly.
    • Apply a decision-making model to using condoms.

    High School

    • Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of the two types of condoms.
    • Analyze influences that may have an impact on deciding whether or when to use condoms.
    • Access medically-accurate information about condoms.
    • Describe the steps to using condoms correctly.
    • Demonstrate ways to communicate decisions about whether or when to use condoms.
    • Analyze factors that may influence the use of condoms.
    • Apply a decision-making model to choices about using condoms.


    Kate McCombs, MPH
    a sex educator who teaches about safer sex, stresses the importance of including pleasure in your conversation about using condoms. “The activities that lead people to practice safer sex or not are about pleasure.” It doesn’t help to respond to pleasure focused questions such as, “Won’t a condom ruin sex?” with a response about preventing STIs and pregnancy. Instead, rely on the research showing that while condoms may diminish sensation, they do not negatively impact individuals’ overall experience of sex.

    If using a stricter curriculum, she recommends the following two strategies to address pleasure.

    1. Talk about lube. “You can talk about lube without talking about pleasure because it increases the efficacy of condoms and decreases the likelihood they’ll break.” In other words, you’re providing students with a pleasurable solution without using pleasure as the selling point.
    2. Focus on communication skills building, particularly around negotiating sex acts. The conversations, she stresses, must go beyond “Yes means yes” or “No means no.”

    Finally, McCombs stresses the importance of normalizing condom-use. One way of doing this is simply by discussing what they are, their use, and why people might want to use them. When it comes to skills building, it is also important to include examples of these in role plays, sexual communication exercises, etc.

    For additional resources on teaching this topic, check out the CSE’s resources: Teaching Safer Sex and Positive Images.

Follow the Latest Conference News:

PageLines