How To Pick A Pleasurable Condom

Sex Therapists Tell The Secrets Of How To Pick A Pleasurable Condom

Why Pleasurable Condoms are Important

Condoms are currently the only way to decrease your risk of getting or passing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during penis-vagina sex, penis-anus sex, oral sex on a penis, or sharing sex toys.  Whether used alone or with a hormonal method, they can be instrumental in preventing unplanned pregnancy.

Despite the importance of condoms, lots of people don’t use them.

Although the reasons are numerous, many don’t use condoms because for them, sex doesn’t feel as good while they’re wearing one.

If you’ve had this experience, it’s entirely possible that the culprit is not the condom itself, but the fact that you haven’t found the right pleasurable condom yet.  Although sex with a condom will probably never feel exactly the same as sex without one, finding the right pleasurable condom can make all the difference between a hot safer sex experience and a safer-sex experience that leaves you wanting more.

The following guide developed at the Center for Growth / Sex Therapy in Philadelphia is going to provide steps that will put you on the path to finding the most pleasurable condom for you.

Step 1: Think about what you’ve liked and disliked about condoms in the past.

Not all condoms are created equally.  If you’ve used condoms in the past you may have noticed that some make it hard for you to feel anything, while others barely feel like they’re on.  You may have noticed that some glide better inside you or your partner’s body, while some sap away lubrication.  Some condoms feel like they choke the penis, while others fit just right.

To help streamline your process, find out the following about condoms you’ve used in the past:

  • Brand
  • Thickness
  • Width
  • Type of Lubrication

The internet is a helpful tool for finding this information if you don’t have the original packaging, or if the original packaging doesn’t include this information about your condom.

If you liked the condom you researched, try to find condoms with similar characteristics, if you didn’t like the condom you researched, try to avoid buying similar condoms.

Step 2: Think about your penis or your partner’s penis.

Just like condoms, not all penises are created equally.  But, because there are so many condoms on the market, it is absolutely possible to find a condom that works well with you or your partner’s penis.

  • Wide Penises. The wider the penis, the more likely a ‘standard’ sized condom will feel restricting, which can result in sex that isn’t as pleasurable and/or issues with sustaining an erection.  For folks with girthier penises, looking for words like “Large,” “XL,” and “X-Wide” can be helpful in guiding you toward a condom that will feel better while you use it.
  • Wider Penises. If even XL condoms seem to be too tight, you may want to consider using female condoms.  Because they are designed to be put into the vagina or anus, they are much wider than any male condom on the market.  Some people even report that it doesn’t feel like they’re wearing a condom at all.
  • Narrower Penises.  If penis width is narrower, standard sized condoms can be baggy or fall off, which can lead to STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy.  Looking for condoms that have words like ‘snug fit’ or ‘slim’ can be helpful in finding condoms designed for thinner penises.
  • Longer Penises. XL, Large and X-Wide condoms are generally not much longer than standard condoms.  So if you find that standard condoms fit you width wise, but not length wise, an XL condom isn’t actually the solution.  You may want to try female condoms.
  • Penises with Large Heads. If you or your partner feels like the head of the penis is being choked, even though the shaft feels fine within a condom, they may want to try a condom with a shape.  For example, Pleasure Plus condoms have extra room in the area of the head of the penis, which can decrease discomfort for penises with larger heads.  Female condoms may also work.

Note: Only one condom should be used at a time.  This means that only one male condom OR one female condom should be used, and they should NOT be used together.

Step 3: Think about latex sensitivities or latex allergies.

If either you or your partner experience itching, burning, discomfort or swelling while using latex, then you’re going to want to choose one of four latex alternatives.

  • Polyisoprene is a latex alternative that is FDA tested and approved for reducing STI and unplanned pregnancy risk.  Polyisoprene condoms are the least expensive latex alternatives.
  • Polyurethane condoms are an alternative that don’t currently have any studies around their effectiveness, and tend to be more expensive than polyisoprene condoms.
  • Female Condoms are made from nitrile and have FDA approval for STI and unplanned pregnancy prevention.  They tend to be more expensive than polyisoprene condoms.
  • Animal Skin condoms are made, generally, from sheep intestine and are only effective in unplanned pregnancy prevention.  They are the most expensive of the latex alternatives.

Step 4: Lubrication

Lubrication can be the difference between loving and hating a condom.  When lubricant is added to a condom it decreases friction during use.  This means that the condom will slide in and out of the body easier, and feel better while you’re using it.

  • Lubricated Condoms are generally covered with a silicone based lubricant.  Silicone based lubricant is hypoallergenic, scent-free, and condom safe, although it should not be used with toys made of silicone.
  • Non-Lubricated Condoms are generally covered with powder to keep the latex from sticking to itself.  If using a non-lubricated condom, it is important to add lubricant before use for penis-vagina sex, penis-anus sex, or sex-toy use.
  • Spermicidally Lubricated Condoms are covered with both silicone lubricant and spermicide.  Although spermicide can help with pregnancy prevention, it contains chemicals that may irritate tissues in the body, thus making the body more susceptible to getting an STD.
  • Flavored Condoms are covered with flavored lubricant.  These condoms are designed ONLY for mouth-penis sex.  If used during vagina-penis or anus-penis sex, the sugars in the lubricant can cause infection, tears in the vagina or rectum, and/or burning during use.  Also, because many flavored condoms are designed as novelties, they have higher breakage rates than other condoms.

Adding Lubricant: Although many condoms come pre-lubricated, you can add 1-3 drops of water or silicone based lubricant inside your condom to increase sensitivity.  More than 3 drops are not recommended, as the condom may become too slippery and fall off during use.  You can also add as much water or silicone based lubricant to the outside of the condom as you desire.

Important Note on Oils:   Oils or oil based lubricants should never be used with latex condoms, as they cause latex to break down.  Although oil based lubricants can be used with other materials, using oils internally isn’t recommended, as they can trap bacteria and thus promote infection.

Step 5: Find a place to get condoms.

  • Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores and Household Supply Stores will generally carry condoms.  Because they’re usually convenient, buying condoms from these stores is an easy way to make sure you have condoms in stock.  The downside to these stores is they may not have a full variety of condoms for you to choose from.
  • Adult Novelty Stores usually carry condoms, and may have condoms you can’t find in grocery stores.  When buying condoms from an adult novelty store, make sure you read the fine print on the condoms to make sure they are FDA approved to protect from STIs and pregnancy.  Sometimes these stores carry novelty condoms that aren’t intended for use.
  • The Internet will be the biggest condom resource at your fingertips.  If you’re having issues finding condoms in stores, you may be able to find something online.  Aside from having condoms shipped directly to you, a bonus to buying condoms online is that you may be able to find variety packs with condoms similar to those you’ve liked in the past.
  • Variety Pack Hint: If you do buy a variety pack, use a few of them each session (i.e. use one, and then take it off and use another on the same erection or toy), and keep notes on which ones you like best.  Doing side by side comparisons will help you to best narrow down your choices.
  • Reproductive Health Clinics are a great place to get condoms for free.  Although some clinics only have one or two condom choices, some offer a large variety.  This is an excellent option for those who find that the cost of condoms is too much for their budget.
  • Friends may have the condom you’re looking for, or may have suggestions about condoms that will help you with your search.  Ask your friends what they’re using, or ask your friend to borrow a condom.  However, keep in mind that you and your friends’ bodies are different from yours, so a condom they love may not be a condom you love.

Important Things to Keep In Mind

  • Don’t give up. It may take a while to find the right condom, but there are enough out there where most people will.  Don’t give up before trying out all your resources.
  • Don’t start with a 12 pack (unless it’s a variety pack). If you’re still in the trial phase, try to buy the lowest number of condoms available.  If you like the condom, you can always go back for more.  If you hate the condom, you’re stuck with 11 more condoms you may never use.
  • Textures, Shapes, and Ribs are all available. For some, textures, shapes and ribs may increase you or your partner’s enjoyment of a condom.  Even if they don’t, the condom itself may be the condom that feels right for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new brands.  Although many of us are comfortable with the brands we see regularly on TV or in stores, other brands may work much better.  If the brand is FDA approved for use, then you should go ahead and try it.
  • Once you figure out which condom you love; stock up! Finding the right condom for you is exciting, but if you don’t have them in ready supply, you’ll still be less likely to use them.
  • Don’t forget to store your condoms properly. Condoms like cool, dry environments.  That means it’s a bad idea to store them in wallets or in your pocket everyday (a couple hours in your pocket should be fine).  If you’re planning on keeping your condoms in a purse or backpack, having a puncture proof container (like an old Altoids tin) can protect your condoms from being ruined by sharp edges or pens.
  • Condoms are your responsibility. Regardless of your gender, relationship status, or reputation, having a condom with you at all times is a good call.  You never know when you (or a friend, for that matter) might need one.
  • Before use: Check the expiration date. Condoms don’t last forever.