Recently I've been approached by a friend of mine about condom use in general. Apparently he's heard many stories about condom failure and unwanted pregnancy. Furthermore he complained about condoms never being fun at all. So why am I telling you this? I'm telling you this because:
- 35% of men are using the wrong condom size or putting it on incorrectly [Source]
- Getting used to using condoms correctly just takes a few simple steps
- New technologies are emerging to actually enhance pleasure rather than reducing it
- Learning how to use a condom is easy
To make sure you get it right have a look at this handy step-by-step guide to condom use. You'll find basic information about condoms, we'll guide you through the various types of condoms and we'll show you how to use condoms and dispose of them properly. The facts are based on information by official organizations to ensure maximal accuracy. May it be of help!
Basic Information about Condoms
Condoms are thin sheaths typically made out of latex or polyurethane. There are two different concepts out there to choose from:
- the male condom:If male condoms are used properly, they are 93-97% effective in protecting against pregnancy (70 women in 1000 will get pregnant per year) compared to 95% using the female condom (50 women in every 1000 will get pregnant per year). [Source] These figures however can vary slightly depending on the various studies.
- the female condom:The female condom can also be made either out of polyurethane (FC/FC2 female condom) or latex (VA w.o.w. female condom). The female condom is worn by women.
Remember: They are the only method that will protect against STI/D (Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases), including HIV/AIDS. [More] In fact it's said to be more than 10'000 times safer than not using condoms. [Source]
Using condoms correctly has a lot to do with the right choice of size and design. The good news is that nowadays there's a solution for everyone - just what does it look like and where can you get it?
Since the launch of the first condom brand "Fromms" in 1916 (produced by a german company founded by Julius Fromm), there's been a lot of evolvement resulting in different types and designs. Finding your perfect match isn't always that easy - experiment with different brands, forms and shapes till you know what fits you. Below you will find 8 different categories of condoms:
material, size, lubrication, ribbed and dotted, color and flavor, female condom, Pronto and the spray-on condom.
But first let's see what you can do to make it as safe as possible:
- Before you buy and use them check the expiry date
- Make sure they are your size
- Only get kitemarked condoms: EEC Standard Mark (CE), US FDA approved, elsewhere ISO approved
- Store condoms in a cool and safe place out of direct sunlight (not in wallets or glove compartments). Latex will become brittle from changes in temperature, rough handling, or age
- Don't use damaged, discolored, brittle, or sticky condoms
- Always put it one well before you start to have penetrative sex [Source]
- Use a new condom every time
- Never use two condoms at the same time - be it two male condoms or a female and a male condom - they may rub together and break
- Use extra water-based lubricant (even more true for anal sex)
There is a small chance of allergic reactions when using latex condoms, that's where polyurethane comes in. It is considered less allergic than latex and:
- Polyurethane condoms can be used with oil based lubricants.
- They conduct heat better and they can be thinner than latex.
- It contains no protein, so there is no rubber latex smell.
- They are more expensive than latex.
But the most important question remains: What about the efficiency? Research shows that the two methods are equally effective, or that polyurethane is nearly as effective as latex in pregnancy and STI prevention. [Source]
There is a third material: Lambskin. It is believed that this "skin" has small enough pores to block sperm, but too large to prevent you from getting infected with STD (including HIV). It is advisable that you use the latex/polyurethane condom whenever you can.
- Standard Size
The sizes available in convenience stores are commonly standard sized, but depending on the product range available you might be able to find slightly smaller, narrower and bigger sizes as well. When unsure ask for advice, because even the standard sizes can vary slightly. If you really want to use your condoms correctly, you'll have to wear the correct size. This isn't just a security measure, this will enhance your sex experience by inches...
You're still not satisfied with the standard sizes? No problem, says american enterpreneur Frank Sadlo, Founder of TheyFit, who will gladly offer you almost every possible size. He could have an even deeper impact on condom size in the future, if the industry decides he's right. [More] Interested? Get the measuring tape out... [TheyFit][Europe]
The TheyFit Service is currently suspended. We're waiting for the expanded line launch. We'll keep you posted.
3. Lubrication on the Condom
Most kind of condoms differ through lubrication. In what way are they different?
- Extra Lubricant
The first and obvious ones are condoms that come with extra lubricant which can provide a better fit and feeling during sex.
Then there is spermicidal which is used to lessen the probability of pregnancy. Nonoxinol-9 is an example for such an active substance (we know today that the amount of substance applied on condoms is not enough to prevent against pregnancy when used for backup purposes). Assuming that you'd like to use additional cream, make sure the specific condom type is designed for it (look up on the package insert). The substance is known to cause irritations and abrasions and may even facilitate HIV transmission. [More] It's advisable that you use a different kind of condoms whenever possible.
- Benzocaine (numbing substance)
Now this is where it gets interesting. This is what Durex claims for its performa brand: "A special Benzocaine lubricant inside the condom helps to control climax and prolong excitement for longer lasting lovemaking." Those can be a life saver for some - why not have them over, just for some very special occasions? Of course Durex is not the only brand offering climax control condoms, most probably you'll get these from your personal favorite brand as well. Just look for "Benzocaine inside".
- Warming Lubricant
That's not quite it yet, because variety is the spice of life there's some brands offering warming, tingling and all kind of sensations (again condoms coated in special lubricant). It'll mostly create some kind of feeling, heightening stimulation for both partners. Something you would probably not experience without wearing rubbers.
- High Tech
CSD500? What sounds like a behind-the-counter drug could in fact become the next big thing in the condom world. Futura Medical and Durex are working together on a condom that will "increase local bloodflow which in turn will lead to improved rigidity, tumescence and duration of an erection". With other words this condom will allow firmer erections and increased penis size (not to mention that the sexual experience could last longer). Recent press releases show successful testing and granted patents in 30 countries, which could indicate a release of the product in the very near future. Stay tuned.
4. Special Shape
- Ribbed and Dotted
Guerilla-Marketing for Durex condoms with ribs.
Guerilla-Marketing for Durex condoms with knobs.
Picture credits: McCann Erickson Belgium
- There you go, finally an interesting discussion topic. Seriously, has anyone ever felt anything with ribbed or dotted condoms? They come in millions of shapes and are marketed heavily (uniquely positioned ribs and dots). I admit, I've been getting these just because they can look - let's say interesting.
- Pleasure Shaped
There's one more kind of condom I would like to place into this category: It's Reddy's pleasure shaped devices designed for your pleasure. With all the additional latex it's not a question wether you will feel these, rather if you find them exciting or not.
So what's the story here. Strategically placed latex pouches (cl)aim to increase stimulation for both of you. Here's what Men's Health Magazine has had to say: "All that rubbing was the next best thing to skin on skin for me and my partner. A must-try. Sensitivity rating: A+". [Source]
The Pleasure Plus by Global Protection Corp. was only the first of a lot more exotic condoms to come. There's Inspiral, Dolphin and YourTube. If these condoms are as good as their names and their reputation...you will have to find out for yourselves. Comments anyone?
Not all condoms are indeed created equal, and we are curious what'll come next out of Reddy's innovative India based company.
5. Color and Flavor
- Please help yourself. I think there's enough color for every taste
- Nevertheless we have one very special guest in the color section: The glow in the dark condom. Color lovers will certainly enjoy this possibility, but be careful. Only a handful of those really meet CE or international standards like Global Protection Corp.'s Night Light and therefore protect you sufficiently. For european readers there's the european equivalent Love Light by Sugant SAS.
- Same goes for flavor. Oral sex anyone? Do you prefer peach, banana or rather swiss chocolate? Or perhaps just a coffee break? Please note though that the flavored condoms should not be used for vaginal/anal sex
6. Female Condom
Female condoms are also made of latex or polyurethane and fit inside a woman's vagina like an "inside out" condom. They should not be used at the same time as a male condom as they may rub together and break. There are a few upsides to this kind of rubber: women can control the usage themselves and application is not necessarily connected with sex (can be applied well before). But they are more expensive and more difficult to apply. For further comparison with male condoms and excellent application manual read on here. [More]
Never heard of female condoms before? If so, you are not alone. Female condoms are widely used in african countries and Brazil, not so in Europe or the US. Altogether they would account for approximately 0.2% of global condom use. [Source] Can we expect more from this technology in the future? While much of the success of the female condom will depend on political will and marketing in developing countries, new models could help to grow the demand for female condoms. [More]
7. Pronto Condom or Fast Application
While for some this isn't an issue, for others it is definitely a cause why they're not wearing condoms: fast/slow application. After years it finally seems that we are experiencing breakthrough technology. The device was named South Africa's Most Beautiful Object by Dutch designer Jurgen Bey. Watch the application video here:
What does it do? The user holds the device with the thumb and forefinger of both hands, pulling the condom down over the penis in a single rapid movement.
We are not entirely sure this will be the solution to this very particular issue, given that it produces extra waste and will be more expensive than normal condoms. This is where runner up Pullit could score. There's a strip you grab, then you pull the condom on. This shouldn't take you more than 3 seconds! Currently only available as a regular condom and Pullit brand, we may well see colored and ribbed condoms in the future and hopefully the technique will be available from different brands too.
8. The Spray-on Condom
So the Pronto Condom addresses speed, how about one that does both, speed and size? That's the vision of the german condom expert Jan Vinzenz Krause. How is this working? Well just spray it on and it will automatically fit your penis (0.040-0.015 mm thin compared to the regular 0.060 mm), be ready in 5 seconds and it comes in red, green, yellow and transparent. Sounds too good to be true? The condom is still in beta-testing but they claim it will be ready by summer 2008. We will certainly cover this one for you and keep you up to date. [Source]
You can read more on this topic in our recent post: Discover the future: CSI: New York and spray-on condoms.
Sometimes additional lubricant can work wonders, we just need to make sure that they are water based or explicitly meant for condom use. Once done that, see what suits you most and you're set.
Whatever your liking, the big ones like ID Lubricants will probably have you covered.
Where can you get them
It really depends on where you live but commonly you should be able to get your condoms:
- At your local pharmacy and drugstore
- Filling stations
- Record shops
- Vending machines in toilets
- Gay pubs and clubs
- Family planning clinics
Lately, of course, there's vast possibilities to buy online and choose from a broad range of products. If you already know what you want or just feel to look what there is, we suggest to try one of those stores. We have assembled just a few of them, but it should give you an idea. Stores are listed by country, mostly they will ship internationally though (just check on their websites). You'll find shops we trust here
Correct Application (male condom)
Fortunately there's a nice flight attendant, who will do the explanation on male condoms for us:
Before I get started with the translation let me give you one simple piece of advice. In order to make it work, you need to:
- Use them correctly and
- Put them on well before sexual intercourse
- Keep them on till you are done
- Use them each and every time
You will find application explanation in most packages as well as on condom related websites. [See also]
Very nice, let's go:
- Carefully open your package and watch out for sharp objects, your teeth, nails or anything else that could damage the condom. Don't unroll it to check if it is damaged, chances are that you will do just that. Don't use more than one condom at a time, this will increase damage possibilities dramatically. Control which side is up and if you should accidentally do it wrong, use a new one.
- If you are uncircumcised, pull back your foreskin before rolling the condom on.
- Put the rolled-up condom over the tip of your penis and pinch the air out of the reservoir tip.
- Then unroll the condom all the way down to the shaft of the penis, don't pull, just roll till you are done.
- You can now use some additional lube, but check what we said regarding lubricant use.
- Hold on to the condom at the base of your penis as you pull it out, to make sure it doesn't slip off. Use each condom only once! [Source (german)]
- Wash your penis and your hands after sex.
Don't flush condoms down the toilet, tie a knot in the upper end of the condom so none of the content spills out. Now dispose of it with your regular waste!
If the condom for whatever reason fails, what are your options?
There is an emergency pill also referred to as "the morning after pill", which is a hormonal contraception method. It will work within 72 hours of sex and protect women from unwanted pregnancy. It is advisable that you act the quickest possible. [More]
If you feel you could have been infected with an STD, you should visit a doctor as quickly as possible and be advised on your situation.
If you are the type who will not be convinced by the solid facts out there to use condoms, let this be a warning. Thanks Zazoo for this excellent classic: