Yes, you’ve read it right, condomology – the study of condoms.
Condoms are among the most used contraceptives in the U.S. by people who are not in a long-term or monogamous relationship. There’s an easy explanation: it’s the only contraceptive that protects against both pregnancy and STDs. However, not everyone is a big fan. Apart from being “life savers” they are also seen as a killjoy, an unwelcome interruption; they decrease feeling, and they smell bad too! How can you improve your experience of having safer sex with a condom? Make sure you get the right one!
Size does matter!
Not only does having the right size condom make a huge difference in the experience, it’s also safer. A condom that is too big can easily slip off, and a condom that is too small might roll back or tear under pressure. When a condom is not the right size, it will often be experienced as thick or uncomfortable. Sometimes, it is not a thinner condom, but a condom of the right size that will make all the difference. What matters most in condom sizes is the circumference. A proper fitting condom should always be slightly smaller than the actual penis in order to stay in place. The Condomerie, the world’s first condom speciality shop, has a useful “measure for pleasure” tool on their website to measure your penis and find the best fitting condom for you. You can find some of these in a pharmacy, but some of the sizes are only available on the Condomerie site, which ships worldwide.
Some people are sensitive or allergic to latex. Imagine getting itchy and red every time you use a condom. That will ruin your safer sex experience for sure. Luckily, there are condoms made of other materials. Each material has it’s own (dis)advantages so we recommend you experiment with a variety to determine which suits you best. The brand Trojan has multiple non-latex options. Their polyurethane condom (“Bareskin”) is very thin, but less stretchable than latex, so it might not fit everyone. If you are extremely sensitive to latex or latex-like materials, Trojan has the “Naturallamb” condom. It is made out of six layers of lamb gut and feels as natural as, well, skin. This condom only protects against pregnancy and not against STDs since it is made out of porous skin which STDs can pass through.
An additional advantage of latex-free condoms is that they don’t smell like latex. If this is something that bothers you, latex-free condoms might be appealing. Remove a latex condom from its packaging a little while before using it will also lessen the smell.
Some people think that when having anal sex, they should use an extra-thick condom for extra protection. Although this is indeed safe, there is something more important to keep in mind when having anal sex. Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self lubricating. This means additional lube is necessary in order to have safe anal sex with condoms. Whether you use an extra-thick or regular condom, always make sure there’s enough lube on it (see our guide to choosing lube here).
Times are changing
Recent technology has resulted in condoms that are thinner than ever before, woo hoo! There is no danger in using extra-thin condoms as long as you use them correctly.
Things to remember:
- First, always check the expiration date. Expired condoms can dry up or become sticky, and tear more easily.
- Second, make sure to put on the condom properly! There should be room, but no air pocket at the tip of the condom; if the tip is already filled with air, ejaculation may cause the condom to burst from pressure.
- Use a new condom for every (new) sexual act.
- Don’t use a single condom for too long (preferably no longer than 20 minutes) as the quality of the latex starts to diminish.
- Condoms will tear is they become too dry; only use a water or silicone-based lubricant.
Keep this in mind and you can enjoy safer sex to the fullest!