When you think of condoms, you probably think of the latex type that you can buy everywhere from the corner store to sex toy retailers. But this one type of condom is really the tip of the iceberg. There are so many types of condoms available that it can make your head spin! We’ll cover all types of condoms and give you advice to help you choose the right fit for your needs, even if those needs change, in the following article. FEMALE CONDOM The female condom is less common than male condoms, but it solves a lot of problems that regular condoms create. While the male condom is a closed tube, the female condom is a much larger cylinder with reinforced rings on either side. You grasp the inner ring and pinch, similar to how you would insert a menstrual cup, to insert the female condom. Then, you let it go once it’s in place. There is a small chance that your partner’s penis can slip between the female condom and enter your vagina if the condom moves out of place, so it’s important to keep both ends straight and remove the female condom to replace it if it becomes twisted. After sex, twist the outer portion and remove the female condom to dispose of it. When this type of condom is in place, some material will remain outside of your vagina, covering your vulva. In this way, the female condom offers a bit of protection against STIs that transfer through skin-to-skin contact (note that HPV transfers pretty easily, however). The female condom not only protects against pregnancy (95% effective with perfect use [1]). Another benefit is that female condom is made from nitrile [2], not latex, so you won’t have to deal with burning or discomfort if you have a latex allergy. The female condom may also provide the best answer if your partner is well-endowed and has struggled with other types of condoms. The female condom is a bit baggier than male condoms, so there’s plenty of room. 4 TYPES OF MALE CONDOMS The other types of condoms all fall under the umbrella of male condoms, but there are various options within this category, too. Male condoms fit onto the penis and should be snug enough to stay in place. You’re probably familiar with brands such as Durex and Trojan, but there are more brands out there than you might realize. Sir Richards, One Condoms, Hex Condoms, Lifestyles, Beyond Seven and Kimono are all reputable brands! Most of these companies offer a few types of condoms for your consideration. 1. LATEX CONDOM The basic condom is made from latex, a thin material that allows sensation and warmth to pass through while protecting you from pregnancy and many STIs (skin-to-skin infections such as HPV can still transmit, however). Latex condoms are inexpensive and readily available from stores and sexual health clinics. 2. POLYISOPRENE There are several types of condoms that don’t contain latex, and polyisoprene condoms are one. Polyisoprene doesn’t cause latex allergies or have the dreaded latex smell. Some people find them more comfortable than latex [3]. Durex makes latex-free condoms in their Avanti Bare line, which you can find in multiple sizes and with various features. Skyn condoms by Lifestyles are also made from this material. 3. POLYURETHANE Another type of condom that isn’t made from latex is made from polyurethane. Benefits include thinner condoms that better transmit body heat and compatibility with oil-based lube [4]. Trojan offers polyurethane condoms under the name Supra BARESKIN. 4. LAMBSKIN Lambskin is a natural condom alternative that only works as a contraceptive. These condoms don’t protect against STIs. Trojan is the only major condom maker that offers lambskin condoms. Look for the Naturalamb box on the shelf. VARIATIONS IN MALE CONDOMS Male condoms now have many features for added sensation, protection or better fit. 1. RESERVOIR TIPS Many male condoms have a sperm reservoir, a smaller tip sometimes known as a teat, where semen collects after ejaculation. When you put on a condom, you unroll it toward the base of the penis while pinching the reservoir to make sure it works properly. 2. LUBRICATED Condoms are usually available without lube, so you can add your own if you’d like, pre-lubricated for comfort or with extra lubrication. Condoms may use sensation lube (such as warming or cooling) to change the experience for one or both partners, just like many lubes now added sensation as well as slickness to your sexual activities. Sometimes the lube has a sensation effect such as warming and cooling. Note that lube must be on the outside of the condom to provide sensation for the woman. 3. TEXTURED Twisted, ribbed, dotted, studded, and mesh textured condoms are several types of condoms that exist to make things feel better or, at the very least, more interesting for you. 4. THIN AND THICK Condoms that are extra-thin are often labeled as sensitive because they allow you to be more sensitive to sensations. These condoms are as effective as regular condoms. Trojan’s BareSkin, Thin, and Thintensity are all thinner than the regular condoms. Non-latex condoms are thinner than latex condoms. So-called extra-safe condoms are slightly thicker than regular condoms to provide increased protection against pregnancy. However, this is a mostly a marketing ploy because studies have found no correlation between efficacy and condom strength. Furthermore, all condoms, including the thinnest ones, must pass industry standards [5]. 5. LARGE AND SMALL Large condoms are more comfortable for larger penises and less likely to break (however, regular condoms can stretch a lot, and there is a lot of overlap in condom sizes). You’ll find larger sizes under the Durex XXL mantle or Trojan’s Magnum line. One also makes Legend XL condoms. Small condoms are usually described as more snug or slim. Lifestyles, Kimono, and Beyond Seven make smaller condoms, and you can also get the best fit condom with One Condom’s Perfect Fit tool. 6. EVEN MORE OPTIONS • Spermicidal: condoms with spermicide inside the condom for extra protection against pregnancy. Note that spermicide is caustic to genital tissues and has actually been shown to increase the transmission of HIV with heavy use [6] (the same is true for consistent use of lube [7]). Most lube is spermicidal, so simply adding a dab of your favorite lube can add a bit of reassurance if you’re worried about getting pregnant. • Low scent: the smell of latex condoms can be overwhelming, so some companies are working on condoms that don’t smell as strong. Trojan’s XOXO condoms are one example of this type of condom. • Prolonging: condoms that promise to help a man last longer use a numbing agent to reduce sensitivity They’re often labeled as “extended pleasure.” However, this can also reduce his pleasure (and yours if you come into contact with the chemical). Some men are also allergic to this chemical [8] [9] [10]. You can use a stretchable cock ring to help your partner last longer or focus on your orgasm before penetration, so he doesn’t have to last as long. • Flavored: condoms with flavor are ideal for using when performing oral sex on a man. The flavor can also mask the smell of latex. • Unique packaging: most condoms come in square foils that you tear open, but there are round wrappers and even condoms with snapping packages that make them easy to put on (Pronto). You don’t need to settle for traditional condom boxes. Trojan’s XOXO line and Hex condoms both come in sophisticated boxes while One Condoms come in tubes and you can store them in tins in your bag or nightstand. Of course, you’ll find other options available. For example, One Condoms make condoms that have tattoo prints on them (and have specialty wrappers, too). And glow-in-the-dark condoms are a novelty that might catch your eye. ARE SPECIAL CONDOMS WORTH IT? Periodically, a company will come out with a type of condom that’s supposed to be a game-changer. Extra safe condoms are an example that we already touched on. They’re thicker, which might seem like they’d be more effective, but all condoms must pass rigorous tests. Another example is Lelo’s Hex condoms, which you might have seen promoted by Charlie Sheen. Hex condoms are made from regular latex, but they have a hexagonal texture. The design is thinner than some condoms, but these condoms cost several times more than other latex condoms, which will do the job just as well. Regardless of the cost or promise of pleasure, you should use a condom whenever you’re unsure of your partner’s STI status and want to prevent pregnancy. The important thing when considering all the different types of condoms is to find those that are the best fit for you. Take your time, read and try a few if you’re unsure (most condom makers offer sets so you can sample different condoms styles). The typical excuses that people give for not wearing condoms really don’t hold up when you realize how many options are available. The best condom for you and your partner won’t aggravate any allergies, will feel good, and fit properly. The proper fit is important so that condoms don’t slide off or break, which reduces their effectiveness as preventing STIs and pregnancy.

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