Aren’t condoms just… all the same?
While the condoms you see sold in stores may all seem similar, the lengths and thicknesses can vary widely between manufacturers and specific products. And everyone’s penis is different. Each person’s penis has it’s own appearance, condition and erectile stiffness.
As a result, the condom that fits one person might not fit another. So how do you know if the condom doesn’t fit right?
If the condom is too small, it could cause pain by pressing down heavily on the male partner's penis and reduce concentration during sex. On the contrary, if it is too loose, it could be uncomfortable to wear, and the condom could come off the penis and remain in the woman's vagina. In this case, there is a risk of contraception failing.
In order to enjoy safe and happy sex for everyone, it’s important to set clear standards and find the condoms that fit just right.
Choose a Condom based on ‘the Size’
Let’s explore how to measure the exact size of your partner’s penis or a sex toy, in order to pick the right condom.
📏 What you will need
A standard ruler, flexible thread or string, and the erect penis or chosen sex toy.
🧶 Measure the length and circumference
Use a piece of thread or string to measure the length and circumference of the erect penis or chosen sex toy, marking the result and checking it against the ruler.
The length of a condom is measured by the straight edge of a flat condom, the width is calculated based on half of the circumference. You can check the measurements on the condom packaging, or the detailed description on the manufacturers’ websites.
The length of the penis and the length of the condom may not necessarily be exactly the same. Most condoms on the market have a length of 160-190mms, in order to cover up to a relatively long penis length. As long as the condom isn’t too short to reach the base, or so long that it bunches up at the ring, a little extra length is fine.
It’s fine if the condom width (half the circumference) measures smaller than the penis width. The average width of a man’s penis is 56.4mm, and the average width of most condoms ranges from 51-55mms.
A tighter fit can reduce the risk of a condom coming off during use, and reduce the possibility of contraception failure. There are individual preferences for tightness, so if the basic dimensions are correct, find a brand and type that feels comfortable according to your tastes.
Choose a Condom based on ‘the Material’
As a product that will come into contact with the sensitive parts of both partners bodies, it’s important to choose the right material carefully.
👍 Good Elasticity 👍 Tough and Strong
👎 Not for use with Oil 👎 Careful of Allergies
The most commonly used condom material. Latex is a natural material extracted from rubber trees, with excellent elasticity and durability it has a lower defect rate than other materials. It’s convenient to use with lubricants, though be careful with oil-based lubes as they may cause damage. Check to see if you have any allergies before using latex condoms. An allergic reaction could look like a rash or hives, and in extreme cases could cause difficulties breathing and anaphylaxis.
👍 Warm to Touch 👍 Latex Alternative
👎 Easily Dry Out 👎 Easily tear
Polyurethane, a type of plastic, can be used as a representative alternative to latex condoms. Thinner than latex, they can transfer heat well. However, there is a high risk of tearing because it is weak against friction. It also has the disadvantage of drying out vaginal lubrication quickly.
👍 Less Allergenic
👎 Lack of Elasticity
A synthetic rubber material similar to latex, it has few chemical components that cause allergic reactions. It's thicker than polyurethane, but stretches better and doesn't feel like rubber. However, it is less elastic than latex. Overall, it sits between latex and polyurethane.
👍 Thin and Strong 👍 Warm to Touch
👎 Animal Substance 👎 No Protection from STI’s
One of the oldest condom materials, made from part of a sheep’s intestines. Lambskin condoms are thin, durable, and transfer heat well. They are also biodegradable after use. The main disadvantages are that they use real animal products, and are not able to prevent the spread of venereal diseases and infections.
Choose a Condom based on ‘your Preference’
After choosing a condom size and material that matches you and your partners conditions, you may consider additional factors that can connect with your senses. Some condoms add flavor, or bumps and ridges to help make sex fun. Other condoms might include a substance called benzocaine, to help your ‘love last longer’. Remember though that external ridges could damage inside the vagina, and some chemicals can potentially cause inflammation. Benzocaine, commonly used as an anesthetic component, can irritate the vagina or cause contact dermatitis.
The process of finding the condom that is ‘just right’ for you and your partner can be bothersome and embarrassing. But for fun and safe sex, it’s important information, so try to have a serious conversation about condoms at least once with each partner.