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Aging & Sexuality Consortium Website

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online resource for Herpes & HPV 

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about Portland, Maine 

online source for gay fun in Portland Maine

About Condoms

Condoms used consistently and correctly are an effective method in preventing pregnancy and the transmission of various sexually transmitted infections.

The main reasons condoms fail are inconsistent use and incorrect use. Some of the reasons condoms are used inconsistently are attributed to comfort of one or both partners and the interference of pleasure. There are a wide variety of options available for both partners to help maximize comfort, pleasure and protection. Latex condoms come in various sizes, shapes, colors textures and flavors, and for those with latex sensitivities, non-latex choices are available. 

Another reason condoms fail is due to incorrect use, i.e., exposing latex condoms to oil or oil-based lubricant, improper storage, not allowing some room at the tip, or opening packages with teeth. All our condoms are shipped with “How To” instructions. We encourage customers to read these helpful materials, and below are some additional recommendations for use and care of condoms.

  • Read the manufacturer’s recommendation for condom use and placement.
  • Do not expose your condoms to heat or sunlight. Do not store them in your car, wallet or pocket. Ideally, store condoms in a cool, dark place. For travel or short-term storage, we recommend placing your condoms in a condom compact.
  • Do not use condoms past the expiration date. Make sure to check the expiration date prior to use.
  • Do not use oil-based lubricants, they will weaken latex condoms and may be irritating to women. Also, do not put a condom on if you have residual oil left on your skin/hands from a massage given with oil or moisturizing lotion, which may contain oils.
  • Do not open condom packages with your teeth.
  • Be careful not to snag the condom with sharp fingernails.
  • The use of a condom compatible lubricant (water based or silicone based) may be helpful in reducing friction, which may cause the condom to break.
  • Lambskin condoms are only effective against pregnancy prevention. For the best overall protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, use a latex condom.
  • Do not reuse condoms. Put on a new condom every time you have contact.
  • If you are inexperienced, take some time to practice and familiarize yourself with proper technique for condom placement.


The role lubricants play sometimes goes unrecognized. Not only can it enhance sexual pleasure it is essential for proper condom use. 

A woman’s body produces natural lubrication, which at times may not be enough to last the duration of her sexual play. As well, menstrual cycle, new motherhood, menopause, contraceptives, and medications may contribute to vaginal dryness. A small amount of personal lubricant will go a long way to make the whole experience more comfortable for both partners.

Adequate lubrication is important for proper condom use. Although most condoms are already lightly lubricated, this may not be enough. The addition of a small amount of condom compatible lubricant will help reduce friction that may cause a condom to break, as well as making the experience more pleasurable for both partners. It is important to use lubricants that are condom compatible, i.e., water based or silicone based. Oil based products, such as Baby Oil, massage oil or Vaseline will breakdown latex, causing the condom to tear.

The use of a lubricant is also important when playing with sex toys. Some toy materials may absorb the body’s natural lubrication. The addition of a small amount of lubricant will help with insertion and can enhance pleasure. Water based lubricants are recommended for sex toy play because silicone based lubes may damage silicone toys.

Just a quick note if engaging in anal sex, it is vital that a lubricant is used because the anus does not produce any natural lubrication, aroused or not.

There are a wide variety of lubricants to choose from. It may require a little experimentation to determine which is best for you: water based; silicone based, which never gets tacky and is great for water play; flavored for oral use or an organic lube for the health conscious.

Some women report that some personal lubricants aggravate reoccurring yeast infections. If this is an issue for you, we carry products that do not contain glycerin such as Liquid Silk, System JO for Women and Slippery Stuff Gel.

If you experience reoccurring yeast infections, please consult with your healthcare provider for additional information and advice.

Adult Items Care & MaintenanceBATTERIES:      

  • Start off with fresh batteries. Do not mix old and new batteries.
  • Insert batteries according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never force battery into its compartment.
  • Do not leave batteries in your toy. When not in use, store batteries outside of unit. This will prolong the life of your batteries and toys.
  • When traveling, ensure batteries are removed. This may help avoid a “situation” with airport personnel.


  • Water based lubricants are compatible with all vibrator materials.
  • Silicone based lubricants should not be used with silicone vibrators, rings or sleeves (they will cause the material to disintegrate).
  • Women should never use oil-based products for lubrication. They can lead to irritation and infection. They also can break down latex condoms and latex adult toys.


  • Clean your toy before and after each use.
  • Use a cloth moistened with warm water and antibacterial soap or adult toy cleanser.
  • When cleaning, do not to get water in the battery compartment.
  • Ensure your toy is thoroughly dried prior to storage.
  • Quick clean up tip: place a condom on your vibrator, prior to use.


  • Place toys in a closed container.
  • Wrap them in a clean T-shirt or towel (make sure batteries have been removed)
  • Choose a location where your toy box will not be moved around a lot.
  • Always be careful not to drop your vibrator.

    Dental or Oral Dams 

    Dams provide a protective barrier against the exchange of fluids during oral sex. Below are some helpful tips for use and care. 

    • Read the manufacturer’s recommendation for use.
    • Rinse off talc prior to use.
    • Always keep the same side against the body.
    • Do not use dams past the expiration date. Make sure to check the expiration date prior to use.
    • Do not expose your dams to heat or sunlight. Do not store them in your car, wallet or pocket. Ideally, store dams in a cool, dark place.
    • Be careful not to snag the dam with sharp fingernails.
    •  Do not reuse dams. Use a new dam every time you have contact.

    Use of Erection or Penis Rings 

    Penis rings, also called cock rings or erection rings, are typically used to restrict blood flow out of the penis. Some men find rings helpful in prolonging an erection, delaying ejaculation, and/or enhancing their own pleasure or their partner’s. Rings are usually worn at the base of the penis or base of the penis behind the scrotum. 

    Some recommendations for use:
    We do not recommend that you use these devices if you have a blood clotting disorder, diabetes, vascular disease or other medical condition that might put you at risk of injury.  Also do not use if you are taking medication for related medical conditions, anticoagulants or blood thinning drugs. As always, please refer to your physician or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. 

    • Do not place on inflamed, irritated or infected skin.
    • Do not use for longer than 20-30minutes and allow at least 60 minutes between uses.
    • Do not use silicone based lubricant with silicone rings.
    • Remove ring prior to falling asleep.
    • Rings are not contraceptive devices.
    • If discomfort occurs, discontinue use immediately.
    • Clean with antibacterial soap and water between uses.
    • Do not submerge vibrating rings in water. Use a dampened cloth and antibacterial soap to wipe clean.

    About Spermicide/Nonoxynol 9 (N-9) In the 1980’s and 1990’s, it became common practice to add Nonoxynol 9 to condoms and lubricants. It was initially believed that N-9, based on in vitro laboratory studies, was an effective microbicide against bacterial STI’s and HIV, as well as its original use of a spermicide. 

    In 2000 and 2001, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) released information and recommendations, based on studies conducted. Evidence revealed that N-9 caused tissue irritation, making it easier for a virus such as HIV or other organism to invade. Studies revealed that a population of women who used N-9 gel had become infected with HIV at about a 50% higher rate than women who used a placebo gel. The more frequently women used only N-9 gel (without a condom) to protect themselves, the higher the risk of becoming infected. Not only did N-9 not protect against HIV infection, it may have caused more transmission. It was also noted that these women had more vaginal lesions, which might have also facilitated HIV transmission. 

    After this information was released, many responsible condom and lubricant manufacturers ceased producing products with Nonoxynol 9. As well, many responsible retailers, such as us, ceased selling condoms and lubricants containing Nonoxynol 9. 

    Over the years, we have had many customers complain of irritation and vaginal infections brought on by the use of spermicide/Nonoxynol 9. We encourage our customers to seek the advice of a healthcare professional in this matter and we will continue not to carry products containing Nonoxynol 9.   

    For further information and details about the studies conducted, visit and  

    Reference: Letter dated August 4, 2000 by Helene D. Gayle M.D., M.P.H.Director, National Center of HIV, STD and TB Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention