Everything You Need to Know about Different Types of Condoms
Learn about different types of condoms and how they can boost your pleasure as well as keep you safe.
In 2023 there’s no excuse for not protecting yourself and your lover.
That’s why we’re interrogating the relationship between contraception and pleasure, and what better place to start than the humble condom?
If you were subjected to UK sexual health education as part of your school years, your formal introduction to the world of sex was probably some kind of awkward interaction involving a banana and a Durex.
No matter what you learnt that fateful day all those years ago, chances are, over the years some of those pearls of wisdom might have slipped your mind, so we think it’s about time for a little refresher so you can continue enjoying safe sex!
Why are Condoms Important?
Condoms have always been a popular contraception choice, in most part thanks to their 98% effectiveness. Preventing unwanted pregnancies, protecting against STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and offering a non-invasive and non-hormonal contraception option, it's clear why so many of us depend on them.
Having an awareness of the different types of condoms and understanding how each style can change the way you experience pleasure empowers you to stay safe and take control of your pleasure.
We all know how sexy confidence is and it’s no different when it comes to safe sex. Being confident in your choice of protection puts your mind at ease so you can keep your head in the game...
How Do Condoms Work?
Firstly, we should say, this post refers specifically to external condoms but internal condoms sometimes referred to as female condoms are also an option for some people!
Condoms are a form of barrier method. External condoms, in particular, are worn over the erect penis and catch ejaculation and precum from the genitals. Put simply, they act as a physical obstruction preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. If you’re having penis-vagina sex and are concerned about potential pregnancy, condoms are a super effective form of birth control. But their benefits don’t stop there.
Anyone engaging in sexual contact (including anal sex and oral sex) should be aware of the potential risks of STIs. If worn properly, condoms can be effective at protecting against sexually transmitted infections so both you and your partner can enjoy yourselves, worry-free.
Finding the Right Fit
When you go to stock up, the size of your condoms might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but honestly, it really should be.
Condoms come in a variety of different sizes and for good reason so, why is condom size important?
- A good fit prevents breakage. If you’re too big for the condom you’re wearing, it's more likely to split
- A comfortable fit prevents the condom from slipping off. Slipping off renders the condom ineffective as a form of protection.
- It can be fun! Make it part of foreplay. Once you find the right fit you can make the whole experience more enjoyable - let your partner put it on for you, make it part of your sensual experience.
Measuring your Member
There’s really only one way to find the right fit. It’s easy, painless and yes it does mean getting the ruler out.
Condom sizes are determined by the width and length of the erect penis so:
Measuring length: Hold one side of a ruler or tape measure against your public bone and measure to the tip of your penis.
Measuring width (girth): Use a piece of string and gently wrap it around the thickest part of your erect penis, then measure the length of the string!
Once you have these two measurements, you can check different brands to choose a condom that most closely matches your erect penis size.
Different Types of Condoms
1. Latex-Free or Non-Latex Condoms
The last thing you want when you’re getting down to it is an allergic reaction. If you or your partner have a latex allergy, you’ll need to find a different material that works for you. There are 3 main types:
Polyurethane: These are thinner condoms and conduct heat better, making them a popular choice for people who like the feeling of increased sensations. Think ‘real feel’.
Lambskin condoms/ Natural membrane condoms: They are super thin condoms made from a membrane found in sheep’s intestines. Do bear in mind these aren’t used as widely today as they don’t provide effective protection from STIs according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Polyisoprene: This material is similar to latex, but it doesn’t contain the chemical compounds that cause an allergic reaction in some people so could be a viable option for those with a latex allergy.
2. Flavoured Condoms
Perfect for use during oral sex, flavoured condoms offer to help you turn your significant other into the delicious snack they truly are. Covered in various different flavours and scents, not only will these types of condoms help you get fruity in the sack but they can also help protect against many orally transmitted STIs.
3. Ribbed and Dotted Condoms
What many people tend to forget is that condoms also have the potential for heightening pleasure whilst keeping you protected! Add an extra dimension to your pleasure with some delightfully textured condoms which offer incredible stimulation for you both.
4. Pleasure Delay Condoms
Ideal for extending the length of your sessions, delay condoms often contain a small amount of light anaesthetic, like benzocaine, to reduce the sensitivity of the penis. This in turn works to delay ejaculation. You might find these types of condoms to be slightly thicker too as a desensitising measure.
5. Latex Condoms
These are probably the most commonly used condoms, often lubricated and sometimes containing spermicide many trusted brands make effective latex condoms. We’re guessing you’ve probably heard of Durex right?
This one’s super important. As massive advocates for ‘the wetter the better’, we always recommend lubing up for your steamy escapades but the type of lube you can use will vary depending on your choice of condom.
Many condoms are pre-lubricated, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t add a little extra slip n slide to glide into your intimate sessions with ease.
1. Water-based lubes are compatible with all types of condoms so if you find selecting a new lube confusing territory, stick to this one type and put your mind at ease.
2. Oil-based lubricants such as lotions, baby oil, and Vaseline should not be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms as they have the potential to degrade these types of materials and render the condom less effective.
- Expiration. All condoms have an expiration date. Do check this as condoms will become less effective and more likely to break as they pass this expiration date.
- Free Condoms. We don’t gatekeep- If you didn’t know, there are certain places where you can get free condoms! Who’d have thought it, something free in 2023! Contraception clinics, sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics, some GP surgeries and some young people's services offer free condoms so you can always enjoy safe sex.
- Condoms on Toys. You might be wondering, why on earth you could possibly need to use a condom on your sex toy, so let us enlighten you.
1. Sharing. If you’re sharing your toys then this one becomes quite obvious, but STIs can be passed through sex toys so popping a condom on is great for giving you that same peace of mind, just like using one with a partner.
2. Easy clean up. Looking for minimal effort and maximum pleasure? We recommend cleaning your sex toys every time after use but to make your clean-up mission that little bit easier you can slip a condom on your toy.
- They're Not for Everyone. One thing to note when considering the fit of your condom is that they’re not for everyone. For those with difficulty maintaining an erection, condoms might not offer the best possible protection as you must have an erect penis to prevent leakage of semen and to keep the condom in place. On that note, it's also important to remember that after ejaculation, the condom needs to be removed before the penis softens to avoid leakage.
Obviously, condoms are just one method of contraception and how you chose to practise safe sex is a matter entirely for you and your partner. Now you know the different types of condoms and how to find the right fit for you, browse our range of the best condoms.
If you're concerned about your sexual health or have any questions about condoms or any of the topics covered in this blog, please seek help from a qualified medical professional. As always, consent should be the first thing to cross your mind when it comes to sex. Agreeing upon whether you will or will not use a condom is an important part of the consent conversation, so make sure you're on the same page with regard to this.