Condoms 101: choosing the perfect condoms for you!

It's a myth that standard condoms are universal and fit everyone. (Yes, even if your forearm can fit in one!)

Condoms 101: choosing the perfect condoms for you! 1

Using the right con­dom size is cru­cial for the wearer's com­fort and pre­ven­tion of preg­nan­cy and STDs. If the con­dom is too big, it can eas­i­ly slip off, and if it is too small, it can break.

Apart from size, con­sid­er the mate­r­i­al your con­doms are made of. For exam­ple, latex is the most pop­u­lar mate­r­i­al; it pro­vides a strong, thin, effec­tive bar­ri­er against min­gling bod­i­ly flu­ids. However, any­one with a latex aller­gy should pass on those.

With that in mind, the best con­doms come in a wide range of mate­ri­als and sizes — XL, snug fit, and every­thing in between! Find the per­fect exter­nal con­doms for you.



Disclosure

This post is spon­sored. It's a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Super Smash Cache (Cy Smash) and Barney Hussey, a free­lance writer based in Denmark. His writ­ings' main focus­es are rela­tion­ship advice and sex education.

Most thoughts expressed in this guide to con­doms are Barney's. However, I've edit­ed it quite a bit and added my own advice, as well.

I hard­ly ever accept guest posts, except when the writer can offer a very dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and have shown me a port­fo­lio say­ing such. Examples include when they're a penis-owner or come from a dif­fer­ent set of mar­gin­al­ized iden­ti­ties than I do.

Also, inter­nal con­doms are cer­tain­ly a thing; I'll get to those in anoth­er post!


Condoms 101: choosing the perfect condoms for you! 2

Why does condom size matter?

Most con­doms have three sizes: small, medi­um, and large. Bigger con­doms may feel more com­fort­able, but they are more like­ly to slip off if you get the wrong size. Smaller con­doms can be quite tight and can eas­i­ly break dur­ing inter­course. What is more, it can cause dis­com­fort and pain when hav­ing sex with a con­dom that doesn’t fit right. Try dif­fer­ent con­dom brands and choose one that fits perfectly.


Cy says:

Wanting the right con­dom size is a legit­i­mate safe­ty con­cern! One of my pet peeves is when peo­ple say, "If a stan­dard con­dom can stretch over my foot and on my leg, it can fit over anyone's penis." That's kind of true, but it can miss the point.

The more com­plete truth is that, yes, it can fit, but using a con­dom isn't just about stretch­ing it over one's junk. During inter­course, you apply repeat­ed force and fric­tion for an extend­ed time. That's a lot of strain (espe­cial­ly if you're not using lube) on rub­ber that's stretched too thin!

Consider also that a too-small condom's bot­tom ring can con­strict the base too hard and roll up — which is anoth­er rea­son con­doms might slip off.

I also get that penis size can be a touchy sub­ject for a penis owner's self-esteem. If you have mul­ti­ple part­ners with dif­fer­ent penis sizes, con­sid­er get­ting con­doms with color-coded wrap­pers. That way, instead of say­ing, "get the small con­doms," you could say, "get the con­doms with the blue wrap­per." Or, of course, have them bring their own. 🙂


Find a vari­ety of con­doms when you vis­it theadulttoyshop.com, a local sex shop, or my favorite online spicy bou­tiques!


How to measure condom size

Condoms are fit­ted accord­ing to the length of the erect penis. If you want to get an idea before order­ing, you can mea­sure your penis size using a ruler or online cal­cu­la­tors. It is rec­om­mend­ed to use mil­lime­ters, as they are more pre­cise than inch­es. Don’t rely on your assump­tions; mea­sur­ing is the only way to know the exact size.

For this pur­pose, you will need a flex­i­ble mea­sur­ing tape or a string and some pri­va­cy. Measure both the length and diam­e­ter of your erect penis.

Here is how to do that:

1 First, find the mid­dle point of the tape mea­sure, then wrap it around the base of your shaft just above your tes­ti­cles. It should be tight enough to stay in place with­out slip­ping but not too snug as to restrict blood flow. This mea­sure­ment is the cir­cum­fer­ence of your erect penis. Divide by pi (~3.14) to get your penis's diameter.

2 Use a ruler to mea­sure the length from the top of the penis head to the base (where you started).

Then, look for con­doms that fit your mea­sure­ments. When choos­ing a con­dom size, make sure you leave some extra room — about 1 cm or a half-inch of length — at the penis head, but nev­er more than that.


Cy says:

Why the half-inch at the tip of the con­dom? It's there to catch semen!

If there's too much extra room, the con­dom can slip off. But if there's too lit­tle, it can break, or semen can run down the sides and leak at the base of the con­dom before pulling out.

Condoms 101: choosing the perfect condoms for you! 3

Also, I repeat: don't rely on your assumptions!

My boyfriend used to think his penis was below aver­age size because he only mea­sured length. In real­i­ty, it's well above aver­age. "Homeboy's got a girthquake!" com­ment­ed one of my read­ers upon see­ing my boyfriend's Clone-A-Willy mod­el. And when he tried cock cages, only the biggest com­po­nents fit him prop­er­ly. Okay, hum­ble­brag over.

But seri­ous­ly: we expe­ri­enced many of the con­dom fit issues men­tioned above. Please mea­sure penis length and girth.


What about condoms’ materials?

Condoms can be made out of a vari­ety of mate­ri­als. The most com­mon are latex and polyurethane. But there are also some oth­er, less com­mon mate­ri­als, such as lamb­skin, syn­thet­ic skin, or polyurethane. Here is what you need to know about them:

Latex Condoms

Latex is a preva­lent mate­r­i­al that feels smooth and com­fort­able. This mate­r­i­al is stretch­able, so it is pret­ty easy to slip on. Latex con­doms have the advan­tage of being thin while durable and reli­able. They are also the eas­i­est to find in stores and the cheap­est. However, if you are aller­gic to latex, these con­doms are not for you.


Cy says:

Consider also poly­iso­prene con­doms. They're made of a syn­thet­ic rub­ber very sim­i­lar to latex but with­out the nat­ur­al pro­teins that cause aller­gic reac­tions. As always, though, I rec­om­mend patch test­ing if you have an aller­gy or sen­si­tiv­i­ty. See Hedonish's guide to non-latex bar­ri­ers for more pros and cons of each dif­fer­ent brand.

I also want to empha­size how vital lube is. While ultra-thin latex con­doms are safe enough for use, they are more prone to break­age. Get some good water-based lube to use with them. (Oil-based lube dis­solves latex rub­ber, and sil­i­cone lube breaks down sol­id silicone.)

Condoms 101: choosing the perfect condoms for you! 4


Polyurethane Condoms

These con­doms are the clos­est approx­i­ma­tions to nat­ur­al skin. They are very soft and thin, which makes them very easy to use. They are said to be the most com­fort­able out of all con­doms, and many peo­ple claim that they can’t even feel them dur­ing sex.

However, polyurethane con­doms can be a lit­tle noisy and sen­si­tive to tem­per­a­ture since they don’t expand all that much. Another dis­ad­van­tage is their price — these con­doms are one of the most expen­sive vari­eties out there.

Lambskin Condoms

These thin con­doms are made out of sheep tis­sue. They are very durable, strong, and don’t have any latex or plas­tic smell. Lambskin con­doms are quite expen­sive, but they are very effec­tive in pre­vent­ing preg­nan­cy. However, they break more often than latex ones and have large nat­ur­al pores that may allow some STIs to pass through.

Cy says:

Also, lamb­skin con­doms do smell quite funky — not going to lie.


Conclusion: let's wrap it up!

Sex can be awe­some, but you need to use prop­er pro­tec­tion for it to be safe. Condoms are the most com­mon type of bar­ri­er. To recap, only buy con­doms that fit your penis mea­sure­ments pre­cise­ly. Otherwise, they can break or slip off dur­ing sex, lead­ing to STIs or unwant­ed pregnancy.

Moreover, remem­ber to choose a suit­able con­dom mate­r­i­al. If you are aller­gic to latex, go for prod­ucts made of poly­iso­prene, polyurethane, or lamb­skin. Whichever con­doms you buy, make sure to check that they have been thor­ough­ly test­ed. And don't for­get the lube. Have fun!


2 Responses

  1. G says:

    this reads as such a good beginner's guide w/ con­doms, ty both for this!!

  2. D. Dyer says:

    Thank you both for this. Definitely look­ing for­ward to the inter­nal con­dom post.

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