Close your eyes and picture this:
It’s Friday night, and your FWB (friend with benefits) is coming over. You start getting everything ready. You change the sheets, take a shower, and then you go to check to make sure you have enough condoms; and you look in the drawer, and the box is empty. In a panic, you rush over to Target and go to the condom section. Suddenly, you are so overwhelmed by the number of choices you become paralyzed with fear and doubt.
Should you get the regular latex or the UltraThin? Do they want a warming condom, and what the fuck is spermicide, and do I need it?
The condom section of any store can be overwhelming with the array of options they provide but have no fear because I am here (wow, that was cheesy).
This guide is here to break down all the mysteries and questions that surround condoms.
What Is A Condom?
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I always start with a definition to make sure everyone is on the same page.
A condom is a thin, stretchy pouch that is typically covers a penis during penetrative sex to protect against STIs and pregnancy.
I specify the word “typically” here because there are other types of condoms that are not for penises but more on that later.
What Does It Do?
A condom works as a barrier to prevent bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluid, from transferring between partners (or whoever is having sex).
It’s these bodily fluids that contain infections and sperm that cause STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
So the barrier of the condom reduces the chances of either of these happening.
How Does It Prevent STIs & Pregnancy?
Essentially, the condom catches any cum (semen) before it can transfer to your partner. Thus reducing the transfer of bodily fluids.
How Effective Are Condoms?
You may be surprised to learn this, but your sex ed. teacher from high school lied to you.
Condoms are super effective and are the only type of birth control that protects against STIs.
But before we dive into the statistics, we need to talk about ideal use vs. typical use.
Ideal Use vs. Typical Use
Ideal use is defined as using the device (in this case, the condom) “exactly the way it is intended.”
Typical use describes how the device (the condom) is used “by the average person in real life.”
So let’s relate this to condoms:
If you use a condom CORRECTLY every single time you have sex, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs, ideally.
Notice how I capitalized, bolded, and underlined the word “correctly.” This is because the word “correctly” is the difference between having a child or not.
Using a condom correctly means…
- Checking the expiration date
- Making sure that the condom is not open beforehand or that there are no holes in the pouch (there should be an air bubble)
- Opening it with your hands (no scissors or teeth)
- Placing it on the head of the penis
- Pinching it at the top
- Rolling it down the shaft
- Not reusing it once you have cum in it.
If you do this every single time, then ideally, the condom should be 98% effective.
But let’s be honest, humans aren’t perfect, and when you are in the throes of passion, you want to get that bad boy on as quickly as possible.
So taking into account human error, condoms’ effectiveness rate drops down to 85%. Signifying that 15 out of 100 people who solely rely on condoms as their only form of birth control will get pregnant.
Double Up… On Methods
Taking into account human error, many health professionals recommend doubling up on birth control methods since no contraception method is 100% guaranteed at preventing pregnancy and STI transmission.
For example, you can use condoms and the pull-out method combined to lower your risk of pregnancy and STI transmission.
Or you can use an IUD combined with condom use. The IUD is 99% effective against preventing pregnancy, and combine that with the protection of the condom from STIs, you have an excellent prevention plan.
(Click here to read more about different types of birth control methods!)
Different Types of Condom Materials
There are many different types of condom materials, but to make it easier, I separated them into three main categories: latex, non-latex, and lambskin.
Latex is the most common material for condoms and is the best choice for preventing pregnancy and STI transmission with a 98% effectiveness rate.
When using latex condoms make sure to use a water-based or silicone-based lube because an oil-based lube will cause the condom to break down, increasing your chances of having a baby or getting chlamydia.
Moreover, pay attention to how your genitals react to latex condoms. If there is a skin rash, irritation, or itching in the area after using a latex condom, you may have a latex allergy.
You can ask your doctor for an allergy test to confirm your suspicions (not necessary) and try other types of condoms made from different materials.
Condoms that are “non-latex” are usually made out of nitrile, polyisoprene, or polyurethane.
These are different types of plastic materials and work better for those with a latex allergy.
The material for these condoms is also thinner, making them the preferred choice for many due to the heightened sensation and pleasure during intercourse.
They probably didn’t teach you this in history class, but the earliest condoms were manufactured from lambskin.
Made out of lambs’ intestinal skin, these condoms are said to feel more natural to users.
They conduct body heat better than other condoms, thus heightening the pleasure and sensation during intercourse.
The downside: they do not protect against STIs, only pregnancy. The lambskin intestine material has pores on it that are large enough to let bodily fluids seep through, opening you up to possible infections.
So please proceed with caution and do not use it with a one-night stand.
Different Types of Condom Styles
Now that we covered the basics let’s start exploring the different types of condoms available.
Female (Internal) Condom
Vagina-owners can insert the internal condom into the vaginal canal to keep sperm from entering and racing up towards the uterus.
Like the regular male condom, it creates a barrier that catches the cum.
This condom is also latex-free (made out of nitrile) and you can insert it up to 8 hours before having sex.
This way you don’t have to stop in the heat of the moment to insert it.
Moreover, since the condom can be difficult to position, its effectiveness rate of preventing pregnancy and protecting against STIs is 79%.
Used specifically for oral sex, these condoms are sheets that are made out of thin latex or polyurethane.
Like all condoms, they work as a barrier to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids preventing the contraction of oral STIs.
To use one, you would put up against a person’s genitals or their anus and go to town.
They also come in flavors.
Not typically on the condom list, but good to know that they are out there and available.
Finger cots, or how I like to refer to them, finger condoms, are for fingering.
While the chances of contracting an STI through fingering are low, they are never zero.
Additionally, there are various bacteria under our fingernails, and not everyone scrubs their hands as much as you hope before they touch your private parts.
Before use, make sure you wash your hands and use a water or silicone-based lube because fingering someone without lube can cause friction that can lead to tears in the vagina or anus or break the condom.
Now, these are condoms that you see everywhere. They are easier to find, readily available, the cheapest option, and come in various types.
These are the condoms that go over the penis to collect any fluid that secretes during sexy time.
While most condoms are stretchy enough to fit your forearm, they may cause you some discomfort if you are above average.
You will know if you need an XL condom if the standard condom feels too tight or is too short on your dick.
But don’t be the asshole who brings a magnum and can’t keep it on because it is too loose. That is a surefire way to make sure a mistake such as it coming off during sex or making a baby happens.
P.S. we can tell if it doesn’t fit.
My favorite and many other people’s favorite type of condom, the ultra-thin!
These condoms are thinner than your standard condom and can be made out of latex or, most commonly, polyurethane.
These types of condoms do not break more than any regular condom. Most condoms break due to improper use, so make sure you are taking care of the condom, and it will take care of you (98% of the time).
Ribbed, Dotted, or Studded
With all of this new technology, brands are developing more ways to combine safety and pleasure.
Condoms that have ribs, dots, or studs introduce new sensations during sex for both parties.
The ribs or studs are strategically placed on the condom, either externally or internally, to give more pleasure in the most sensitive areas for both the vulva and penis-owner.
So you may find that these types of condoms have ribs internally for pleasure at the head of the penis and others that have ribs externally, at the top, and the base of the condom for the pleasure of the vulva-owner.
Warming and Cooling
These types of condoms have a warming lube on the condom.
Made out of a thinner latex, the warming lube is “activated by natural body moisture and heats up during sexual intercourse.”
Now that’s one way to heat things up in the bedroom but keep in mind that most warming gels contain glycerol, aka sugar alcohol. So if you have some irritation down under, that may be why.
Now, these are what I like to call fun condoms. Most of them do not have any added pleasure but are aesthetically pleasing.
Ready to have a real-life lightsaber in the bedroom?
Most glow-in-the-dark condoms are FDA-approved to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
They have three layers- an inner and outer layer made with latex that seals the middle layer, containing a phosphorous pigment, aka the glowy stuff.
The pigment is non-toxic and is safe.
Colored condoms are exactly like regular condoms expect they have colors and designs on them!
They come in a multitude of colors that span the color wheel, and some come in the colors of global flags or holidays.
Most of these condoms are FDA-approved but always make sure to read the label.
Yes, some condoms have flavors.
Yes, some are absolutely disgusting, while others are downright delicious.
The flavors range from fruity to chocolate to bubblegum and even mint.
Flavored condoms are a great addition to oral sex. I recommend them especially to first-timers because the taste and texture of genitals is not the easiest taste to acquire.
(Click here to read more tips about giving blow jobs)
While some flavored condoms are approved for penetrative sex, I highly advise against using them for anything other than oral. This is because the sugar used in the flavoring will give a vulva-owner an infection or just upset their vagina.
A lubricated condom refers to a condom that has lube on the outer part of it.
These types of condoms makes sex easier and more enjoyable for both parties, and it reduces the friction of the condom.
And we want this because the more friction there is, the higher the chances are that the condom will be ripped or torn.
Plus, a dry condom going in and out of you sounds like torture.
Non-lubricated condoms are regular condoms that do not come with any lube on them.
Maybe you don’t like the lube that comes on other condoms, and you want to use your own.
Great! Ensure that you use a water or silicone-based lube because an oil-based lube will increase the risk of tear or break in the condom, and we don’t want that.
Spermicidal condoms are condoms that have spermicide on the condom.
The spermicide is a chemical gel that kills and immobilizes the sperm. This way, if any of them manage to escape from the condom, they will not be able to swim up the uterus to find an egg.
While spermicide alone is only 72-86% effective in preventing pregnancy, combining it with a condom raises the effectiveness rate.
Keep in mind that spermicide does not protect against STIs, and it may cause some irritation or infection.
These types of condoms come with a numbing agent called benzocaine and are people who cum too early during sex or have premature ejaculation.
The numbing agent “absorbs into the skin of the penis, which reduces sensations to prolong ejaculation.”
So you can literally fuck all night. Make sure to use lube.
Biggest Condom Don’ts
To take better care of yourself, your partner and keep the effectiveness of the condom high, I’ve compiled a list of things you should not do with condoms.
- Do not use an oil-based lube with a latex condom.
- Oil-based lubes break down the integrity of the condom, making it easier for the contact and transfer of bodily fluids. And you know what that means: babies and the transmission of STIs.
- So avoid coconut oil, cooking oil, lotion, and vaseline. Just buy some lube.
- Do not use a flavored condom for penetrative sex.
- I don’t care if the condom is said to be okay to be used for sex.
- Flavored condoms should only be used for oral sex because the sugar content used for the flavoring can cause the receiver (whoever the condom is going in and out of) to develop an infection.
- Do not double up on condoms.
- You may think it is a good idea to roll two condoms on your dick or pair a male condom with a female condom, but you would be wrong.
- This will not only irritate your genitals due to the friction of the rubber, but it could cause the condoms to tear.
- One is enough. Pull out if you’re so worried.
- Do not use teeth or scissors to open the condom packet.
- Using anything other than your fingers to open the condom pouch increases the risk of causing tears in the condom, thus damaging it.
- Do not use the same condom for anal and vaginal sex.
- Different hole, different condom. That simple. If you use the same condom, you run the risk of spreading bacteria and causing a what? An infection.
- Do not keep condoms in your pocket, car, or bathroom for long periods.
- When you keep condoms in places that get a lot of heat and moisture, you run the risk of damaging the condom.
- So keep them in your nightstand drawer.
- P.S. A long period of time is about one month in this case.
- Do not reuse condoms.
- Condoms are a one-and-done deal and are not meant to be reused.
- And if you are one of those people who wash and reuse condoms, just know that the condom will not hold up and will most likely break or tear the next time you try to use it.
Keep In Mind
As you read, there are more than enough choices of condoms out there.
The variety can be overwhelming but use this post to help you eliminate the ones you don’t care to try and then find one you like and works for you.
There is no excuse not to be safe.
You can have great sex and be responsible at the same time.
Let me know down below if you have a favorite condom that you swear by!
- Health | 9 Types of Condoms You Should Know About
- Cosmopolitan | 17 Different Types of Condoms for All Your Bonin’ Needs
- VeryWellHealth | 11 Condom Types & Styles to Explore
- Cleveland Clinic | Condoms
- Promescent | 15 Types of Condoms: Benefits, Styles, & More
- Healthline | How Do I Use a Finger Condom?
- Planned Parenthood | Condom
- Planned Parenthood | Birth Control