Condom (Male, Non-Flavored)
Condom: A condom is a sheath designed to fit over the penis and protect from both pregnancy and sexuality transmitted infections (STIs).
Activities: Condoms can be used during penis-vagina sex, penis-anus sex, mouth-penis sex, and when sex toys are being shared.
Materials: Condoms can be made out of one of four materials: latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene and animal skin. Latex is the most common material. However, some people have latex allergies or sensitivities which can result in itching, swelling, or discomfort. Polyurethane (i.e. Trojan Supra) or Polyisoprene (i.e. Lifestyles Skyn) condoms are latex alternatives that will protect from both STIs and pregnancy, but won’t cause an allergic reaction. Animal skin condoms are also hypoallergenic, but only protect from pregnancy. Because they are generally made from animal intestines, animal skin condoms have pores that are big enough to allow STIs to pass through.
Sizes: Condoms come in different sizes in order to accommodate different penis lengths and widths. Condoms that have labels like “Large, XL, X-Wide, etc.” are generally made to fit penises that are on the girthier side. The length of the condom itself may not be longer than a standard sized condom. If standard sized condoms pinch, cause discomfort, or are painful because they are too tight, one might want to consider trying wider condoms. Condoms with labels like “slim” or “snug-fit” are designed for penises that are on the smaller side. If one finds that their condoms are falling off regularly or feel baggy, they may want to consider smaller condoms. (Note: Polyurethane condoms tend to be on the wider side.)
Shapes/Textures: Alongside coming in different sizes, condoms also come in different shapes. Some condoms may have swirls, larger space in the region of the head of the penis, or they may even be textured. Whether or not condom shape or texture enhances the sexual experience varies from person to person. Condoms with extra room in the head can be helpful for those whole feel like the head of the penis is ‘choked’ while wearing standard condoms.
Lubricant: With latex condoms, it is essential that only water or silicone based lubricant be used. Anything containing oil (Vaseline, lotions, lip gloss, massage oils, etc) will break down a latex condom, rendering it ineffective. Although oil based lubricant can be used on the other three condom materials, it isn’t recommended because oils can trap bacteria inside the body and cause infection. Most pre-lubricated condoms come with a silicone based lubricant already applied. Some condoms may also have spermicidal lubricant. Although this is helpful in prevention of pregnancy, the chemical agent in spermicide has been shown to create irritation for some users.
Increasing Sensitivity: Lubricant can be used to make condoms feel better during use. Anywhere from 1-3 drops can be used on the inside of a condom, increasing sensitivity for the wearer. (Note: Putting more than 3 drops on the inside of the condom can cause the condom to slip off during use.) Any amount of lubricant can be used on the outside of the condom. Alongside increasing sensitivity, lubricant can reduce the chance of a condom breaking because of the reduction in friction.
Expiration: All condoms eventually expire, so it is imperative to read the date printed on the condom packet before use. An expired condom is more likely to malfunction and should not be used.
Using Condoms with Toys: When sex toys are shared, there is a risk for STI transmission. In order to decrease this risk, a new condom can be used each time the toy is used on someone new. Also, some insertable sex toys made from porous materials (jelly rubber, cyberskin, etc) can trap the body’s natural bacteria. If the toy isn’t cleaned properly or isn’t cleaned within a reasonable amount of time after use, the bacteria can get trapped beyond where normal cleaning would be effective. When they toy is then reintroduced into the body, the trapped bacteria has potential to cause infection. Using a condom over a porous toy can help to reduce infection risk.
Important Tips for Use
- When opening a condom, do not use scissors or teeth. There is an increased risk of tearing the condom if these methods are used.
- When rolling the condom over a penis, make sure to pinch the tip. This makes sure there isn’t any air in the condom and also ensures there is a place for semen to go after ejaculation.
- After ejaculation, be sure to hold on to the bottom ring of the condom when pulling out of a partner’s body. This will reduce the chances that the condom will fall off or flip inside out.
Getting Condoms: Condoms can be purchased at drug stores, convenience stores, and larger household supply stores (i.e. Target). One may also be able to find free condoms at local reproductive health clinics like Planned Parenthood.