OF all the bedroom mood killers, desperately trying to squeeze a condom on is definitely up there.
Even worse if it slips off mid-sex.
But getting the right size for you is not as hard as you think.
And picking the right type for you – or your partner – is crucial for enjoyable and safe sex.
Condoms come in all shapes and sizes and without being snug to your penis, it could lead to all sorts of hazards.
Navin Khosla, superintendent pharmacist at FROM MARS, said: “Finding the fit of your condom is so important, as if it's too small, it may break, and if the condom is too big it can slip off.
“Not only can having the wrong size condom could cause unexpected pregnancy, and STIs, it can even have a detrimental impact on your sex life.”
Condoms are essential if you are “playing the field” as they are the only way to protect against STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Reminder – that’s even if other birth controls are in use, such as the pill or coil, to prevent pregnancy.
They are also highly effective at preventing pregnancy on their own, at 98 per cent.
You can get condoms for free from the NHS (which are generic) or buy them in shops or online.
There has been a rapid increase in STIS, with almost 500,000 diagnoses in the UK in 2019
And with “Freedom Day” just around the corner, giving Brits the go ahead to jump into bed without any looming Covid restrictions, it's more important than ever to have safe sex to prevent disease.
Navin said: “If you are reluctant to use a condom, or have had a bad experience, it is most likely down to having a poor fit.
“It may take you time for you and your partner to find the right one, but it will be worth it to be fully protected, safe and enjoyable!”
Follow these four essential steps to getting the right condom:
1. Measure your penis
The first essential step to finding your fit is to measure your penis.
Condoms come in different sizes but you don’t have to choose sizing based on what you THINK will fit you.
Start by measuring from the base of the penis, where it meets the pelvis, to the end of the tip.
You can simply measure the length with a ruler or tape measure.
Then measure the width. The best way to do this is to use a piece of string or a flexible measuring tape.
Wrap it around the thickest part of your penis (usually near the middle of the shaft), then mark where the string crosses and put it against a ruler.
2. Know your size on the box
Now you know your penis size, you can look for the correct condoms.
Most manufacturers base condom sizes on both length and width measurements.
However, width is generally considered more important than length for condom fit as it affects how well it will stay on.
For width, use these general rules:
- Snug – under 1.75 inches
- Standard – 1.75 to 2 inches
- Large – over 2 inches
For length, use these general rules:
- Snug – 7 to 7.8 inches
- Standard – 7.25 to 7.8 inches
- Large – 7.25 to 8.1 inches
3. Know your materials, design and lubricants
Not all condoms give the same sensation.
There is a huge range of various types of material, design and built-in lubrication which can alter the overall experience.
Condom materials include latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene and lambkin.
Be sure to do your research on which you may prefer, and be sure to take into consideration any allergies.
Condoms are often designed with texture to give more pleasure, including ribbed, studded – and even flavoured.
NHS tips for condom use
- Condoms need to be stored in places that are not too hot or cold, and away from sharp or rough surfaces that could tear them or wear them away.
- Condoms have a use-by date on the packaging. Do not use out-of-date condoms.
- A condom must not be used more than once. Use a new one each time you have sex.
- How to use lube: Oil-based products – such as moisturiser, lotion and Vaseline – can damage latex and polyisoprene condoms, but they are safe to use with polyurethane condoms. Water-based lubricant is safe to use with all condoms.
- Some people may be allergic to latex, plastic or spermicides, but you can get condoms that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
- Some condoms come with spermicide on them. You should avoid using this type, or using spermicide as a lubricant, as it does not protect against STIs and may increase your risk of infection.
- Always buy condoms that carry the BSI kite mark and the European CE mark. This means they've been tested to the required safety standards.
- Condoms can be damaged and may not work by fingernails or jewellery, oil-based lubricants (such as lotion, baby oil or Vaseline), or medicine for conditions like thrush (pessaries or creams).
- If you think sperm has entered the vagina, you may need emergency contraception.
Once you’re measured up, do some research online so you know exactly what you want, and where to get it.
This can limit how much time you spend in the condom aisle at the supermarket feeling super embarrassed (although it is completely normal!).
You can go straight in the shop and find the product you need, based on what their website says is available, or buy online for even less hassle.
You may need to purchase a few different types of condoms and try them on to see what you like.
This will give you a chance to know which gives you the best mixture of comfort, sensitivity and fit.
There is always a little experimentation during sex as well.
If you aren’t happy with the ones you have chosen, keep looking.
There are dozens to try and there is no “one size fits all” – literally!
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