This week, I thought I would take some inspiration from Laetitia’s latest slippery exploration of the world of lubes and take you on a tour of their faithful companions – condoms! Luckily, condom technology has come a long way since the likes of these examples from the 16th a through the 18th centuries.
Condoms were originally made from animal by-products, like intestinal products. YUCK! Eventually, vulcanized rubber (Thank you Mr.Goodyear) hit the scene and ever since, the majority of condoms have been made of rubber-based materials. These days condom options are nearly endless and can range from the mundane to just plain bizarre. Like choosing lube, figuring out what is right for you and your partner can be downright daunting, so here are a few important points to consider.
Reality or Not?
We should all have a good grasp on reality, but here I’m referring to the Reality “Female” Condom. Most of us know about the good ole’ fashioned “male” condom but fewer have heard of the “female” condom. The excessive use of quotations marks in the last two sentences are because there is no reason to label one male or female. The Reality condom is a type of condom that is inserted in the vagina or rectum to protect against pregnancy and STIs. It’s made of a non-latex material, which is great for those with latex allergies. It’s also nice because unlike the male condom, users don’t have to wait for themselves or their partners to get an erection to use it! For more information about the Reality condom, visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/female-condom-4223.htm
Most of the rest of this post will address “male condoms”, simply because there currently is not a lot of variety when it comes to Reality condoms – there is only one kind!
Though you can certainly still find animal-based condoms out there, such as lambskin condoms, keep in mind that they DO NOT protect partners against giving or getting sexually transmitted infections like HIV. For pregnancy prevention and STI prevention, use a latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene barrier method. If you’re using latex, make sure to use only water or silicone-based lubricants.
Contrary to what Trojan might want us to believe, the brand of your condom really doesn’t matter. Some brands have done a really wonderful job with marketing, but the fact is that in the United States any condom approved by the FDA should be equally effective. (Avert.org states that condom failure due to a fault in the condom itself occurs in only 2 out of 100 condoms!) Unless you like paying extra money for no good reason, the only thing you should think about when it comes to brands and condoms is whether a certain brand works for you or your partner better (see Size next!). Whatever brand you choose, make sure that you are using it correctly. See this video to learn or remind yourself how to use a condom correctly. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcpfZKvOFZ4)
Try as we might to dispel the myth that size matters when it comes to sex, in this case it actually does. This is where the Goldilocks analogy comes in – not too big, not too small, but just right! An ill-fitting condom can lead to difficulties putting it on, and then also in it staying on or even breaking during sex. Condoms come in different lengths and widths that vary by brand and type. The right sized condom should roll all the way to the base of the penis and not pinch or prevent blood flow. There should also be room at the top or tip of the condom (at least enough to pinch between two fingers) for sperm to go during ejaculation.
Many of us have stood in awe in the condom aisle wondering what crazy adjective we should choose from among the packages labeled things like ribbed, twisted, her pleasure, his pleasure, extra sensation, or extra strength just to name a few! Most of these involve some level of ribbing or material on the condom to provide extra stimulation, but I think I’ll save the details for my next post because there are so many. In the mean time, go ahead and try one out and see if you and your partner enjoy it.
And finally, one of the best parts about condoms is that they are so readily available! For convenience and cost, you can’t beat UNC Campus Health to get condoms and other safer sex supplies for free! Call 919-966-3658 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to “order” some supplies to pick up! Or, you could try your local drugstore to pick up the common brands and styles. If you’re feeling more adventurous, or haven’t liked the kinds you’ve found so far you can go a variety of websites to check out a much more extensive selection. You can even custom order condoms at some online vendors to fit your specific measurements! The following are just a few!