How to Choose a Condom

by Alicia Guinn

Proper Attire Condoms

Condoms come in so many shapes and sizes that choosing one can be an erotic adventure in itself. There you are, in your local drugstore or surfing the web, eyeing the rows of condoms, imagining what it will be like to use them later on!


Yet too many people approach condom use as a necessary evil, complaining that "They don’t feel good," "They reduce sensation," or "They make sex less spontaneous." You can easily cut out the first two complaints by choosing the right condom. (And as for the spontaneity problem, think of the extra minute it takes to put on a condom and use some lube as that last juicy tease of anticipation before you get down to business.) Most folks think that all condoms are created equal, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you're looking for a good place to start, we suggest our Condom Sampler Pack. In the meantime, here are a few factors to keep in mind while searching for the perfect condom:

  1. Strength. A lot of people steer clear of thinner condoms because they assume that "thinner" also means "more likely to break." This isn't the case at all, since most condoms are tested to meet certain safety guidelines. It is a good idea to use extra lube with all condoms, since lack of lubrication is the number one factor in condom breakage, whether you’re using a thicker Trojan or thinner Kimono. That said, some condom manufacturers have an outstanding safety record. For example, thinner Swedish condoms like Profil, Mamba, and Okeido are tested to be 15 percent stronger than run-of-the-mill American condoms.
  2. Size. Condoms do vary quite a bit in size. While most come in a size deemed average or medium, certain condoms are manufactured to fit larger- or smaller-than-average cocks.  If you have problems with condoms slipping off, it’s worth trying a smaller-sized condom like Mamba or Lifestyles Snugger Fit. On the other hand, if you have a problem getting condoms on in the first place because they seem too tight, you should try a larger condom like Magnum. Both Okeido and Maxx are larger-sized condoms which are made with thinner, silkier latex. And the Magnum XL is the largest condom on the market.
  3. Sensation. The single biggest complaint about condoms is that they reduce sensation for the wearer, but ingenious condom manufacturers have found ways to increase sensation. The first is to make condoms thinner. The Kimono Microthin, one of our most popular condoms, is thinner than most condoms and fits a bit more snugly.  The other way to increase sensation is to alter the shape of traditional condoms.  Pleasure Plus features a pouch in the head of the condom that creates friction against the frenulum, the sensitive sweet spot on the underside of the penis. These condoms have gotten rave reviews from men.
  4. Material. The great majority of condoms are made of latex, but some people are allergic to latex. If that is the case, you should use a polyurethane condom like Avanti or the Reality Female Condom. While some folks prefer lambskin condoms (actually made of intestine) as a latex alternative, remember that they protect only against pregnancy, not STDs.
  5. Flavor. Some condoms are made specifically with oral sex in mind.  STDs can be spread by oral sex, so protect yourself.  Kiss of Mint condoms are unlubricated with a classic minty taste, while Trustex Flavored come in strawberry and vanilla flavors. Flavored condoms are also a great solution for folks who'd rather not swallow during oral sex, or those who have a difficult time with the taste of their lover's come.
  6. Texture. There’s a little bit of controversy surrounding textured condoms, which usually feature subtle nubs on the outside surface of the condom, designed to stimulate the receptive partner. While some people swear the nubs feel great, others think those nubbins are hardly big enough to warrant the fuss. Women in particular are often skeptical about the "ribbed for her pleasure" tradition in condom manufacturing.  Are you pro- or anti-textured condoms?  The only way to find out is to take a couple for a test run. Try Kimono Type E, Rough Rider, or Babeland Condoms
  7. Lubrication. Almost all condoms come pre-lubricated because lubrication helps decrease condom breakage. Therefore, only a few manufacturers make unlubricated condoms. The Kiss of Mint comes unlubricated but flavored with powder for oral sex.  Colored Trustex condoms, however, come completely unlubricated.  They’re great for oral sex, for covering sex toys, for easy clean up, and if you suspect you have a sensitivity to the lube on other condoms.  Just remember to buy some lube to go with them!
  8. All-Purpose.  But what if you’re looking for a standard, best all-around condom?  We’ve got you covered.  Beyond 7 and Crown condoms are medium-sized and a little thinner than average.  They’re just good, reliable condoms.

Now get out there and play safe!