Practising safe sex is super important when it comes to looking after our health and well being, and one of the best ways that we can do this is by using prophylactics. Sure, condoms aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, but consent and safe sex are so we can make it work! Walk into any adult store and you’ll be amazed at the range of designs and types available these days. We live in a world full of colour, one where you aren’t just limited to size and shape.
Flavored condoms, glow in the dark ones, textured ones, coloured ones, warming ones… hell, you can even buy edible ones! Although be careful with that last type – they are for novelty use only and won’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases or prevent pregnancies.
As condoms come in many shapes and sizes, you might be forgiven feeling overwhelmed with choices. Sometimes it’s good to bring it back to basics. If you don’t know where to start, we suggest figuring out what size you might need first. This is important because if the fit isn’t right, this is where you will potentially run into problems.
Condoms that are too big will slide off the penis or strap-on (that’s right, safe sex also applies to lesbian and bisexual women using toys and strap-ons), and ones that are too small can be constricting and are more likely to break.
Length & Girth
Girth rather than length is actually the more important element to take into consideration when looking at sizes. A lot of condoms are designed to be longer than necessary to accommodate for the variation in penis length. With regards to girth, the following measurements can be used as a guideline:
• a girth of < 4.7” = snug fit
• a girth of 4.7 – 5.1” = regular fit
• a girth of 5.1 – 6” = large fit
Some simple things you can do in order to find the best condom fit is to measure your penis or strap-on/toy. If you’re measuring a penis, make sure it is erect. Measure the length from the base to the tip, and then measure the thickest part of the penis/toy/strap-on for your girth measurement. You can use string, ribbon or tape to do this, and once you have the measurement, lie it across a ruler to determine the length. Once you have the girth, you can refer to the above measurements to figure out what fit you need for your condom.
Materials are another element of condoms that you should bear in mind when shopping around. A lot of manufacturers use latex to make condoms, but some people do not like the feel of latex or are allergic, so be sure to keep an eye out of alternatives on the market. Some common materials include latex, lambskin, polyurethane and polyisoprene which we’ll go through in a bit more detail below.
Latex condoms are an industry favourite as they are effective barriers against sperm, bacteria and viruses. Take that STIs! Watch out if you’re using oil-based lubricants and products as oils break down the laxed which might cause tears. Latex is flexible but doesn’t transfer heat which might be unappealing for some as there is a reduction in pleasurable sensations.
Similar to latex but feel more natural and softer. Because it doesn’t have the protein associated with allergic reactions in some people, it is a good alternative to latex.
The name here is somewhat misleading, as although it is made from a part of a lamb, it isn’t the lamb’s skin. It’s actually made from cecum which is a part of the lamb’s intestines. These types of condoms are thin, durable and good at transferring heat for added pleasure. Sadly they may not protect against STIs or HIV.
Often thinner than latex and polyisoprene, condoms made from polyurethane are good for transferring heat but are less flexible than latex, meaning that they can tear or break more easily. They are however very effective for preventing transmission of STIs and HIV.