Unfortunately, the embarrassment factor around buying condoms leaves many people unsure about which product may be right for them. Our guide should help you confidently, and discreetly, select the right condom. Keep the following in mind as you consider condoms:
No sexual activity is 100% safe, however, condoms are the single best way to reduce the risk of being exposed to, or exposing others to sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, and HIV (the virus which causes AIDS) during intercourse and oral sex.
If a condom causes discomfort, itching, or burning, discontinue use immediately. You may be allergic to latex or another ingredient in the product. If these symptoms do not resolve within a day, consult your doctor.
Lubricated condoms can work well if the female partner has vaginal dryness, but the addition of a separate personal lubricant product may be necessary for truly comfortable and pain-free sex.
Do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms, as they may cause the condom to break.
Condoms with spermicide are not proven to increase protection against pregnancy, and some women are allergic to this ingredient, so a plain option may work best. And some research suggests that because it can cause irritation, condoms with spermicide may increase the likelihood of spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Condoms do have expiration dates, so buy a smaller package if there’s a chance you won’t use them all within a few months. Carrying a condom in your wallet can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the product making it more susceptible to breaking during use, so avoid doing this if possible.
Condoms are very stretchy, and most men can use the same size comfortably. Occasionally, a larger condom size may work better, but keep in mind that a too-large condom will decrease pleasurable sensations and may increase the chances of the condom slipping off.
Latex, Polyurethane, & Polyisoprene Condoms
What they are: Latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene condoms are made from natural (latex) or synthetic (polyurethane and polyisoprene) material and are effective for minimizing the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Why to buy: These condoms come in various sizes, colors, textures, shapes, and flavors. Latex condoms are the least expensive option. Polyisoprene is the newest option and some people find this material feels the most “natural” and comfortable. Polyurethane and polyisoprene are good options for people with latex allergies.
Things to consider: Latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene condoms are equally effective, so use whichever product works best for you and your partner.
What they are: Lambskin condoms are made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb.
Why to buy: Some people feel that lambskin feels more “natural” than latex and polyurethane, though the newer polyisoprene condoms may be worth a try for those who’ve used and liked lambskin in the past.
Things to consider: Lambskin condoms do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, because they have small pores through which viruses and bacteria can pass. They are effective for minimizing the chances of pregnancy, because sperm are too large to pass through the pores. Lambskin condoms are generally more expensive than latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene.
Condoms with Pleasure Ingredients
What they are: Some latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene condoms have added ingredients to increase pleasurable sensations during sexual activity, for example, substances that cause a warming sensation in the genitals. Other condoms may have added textures, such as ribs or ridges, which can increase pleasure during intercourse.
Why to buy: If you have difficulty maintaining arousal during sexual activity, or if you’re open to experimenting with new ways to spice up your sex life, you may enjoy a condom with added pleasure ingredients.
Things to consider: These products contain more ingredients than basic lubricated and non-lubricated condoms. More ingredients may mean a higher likelihood of an allergic or other unpleasant reaction. Check the ingredient list so you can avoid any of your known skin allergy triggers.