In honor of National Condom Month, I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on condoms, all the different varieties, and how to choose a condom.
Condoms are 99.9% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and other STIs if used consistently and correctly for sexual encounters.
STI Facts and Statistics
According to the United Sates Department of Health and Human Services, about 19 million new sexually transmitted infections are thought to occur each year. These infections affect women and men of all backgrounds and economic levels.
There more than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause an STI. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and bacterial vaginosis. Viral STIs include genital herpes, hepatitis B, HPV and HIV. Parasitic STIs include trichomoniasis.
How to Protect Yourself Against STIs
One of the best ways to protect yourself against STIs, apart from abstinence, is to use condoms: male condoms, female condoms and dental dams.
Male condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control out there. They are placed over the male penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping the males sperm inside the condom and out of your vagina.
The male condom is rolled over the erect or hardened penis and prevents against direct contact between the penis and vagina. The condom must be removed before the erection ends or the sperm can leak out.
Male condoms come in a variety of brands, types of rubbers, shapes and sizes to choose from, with lube and without, which is why it is extremely important to find the condom that works for you and your partner.
It’s important to note that latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane are the only condoms that protect against HIV & STI. Polyurethane and Polyisoprene offer great alternatives to people with latex allergies. Also, keep in mind that natural/lamb skin condoms are only useful for pregnancy prevention and NOT HIV or STI prevention.
Types of Male Condoms
So, now that you have decided between male condom, female condom or dental dam, let’s explore the wide arrange of male condoms that are available on the market.
Latex condoms are the most common type of male condom. They are reliable in helping to prevent STIs and pregnancy. Many people have latex allergies however, so this type of condom should be avoided if you experience a rash, itchiness, irritation or redness after condom sex. Your doctor can also give you an allergy test to see if you are allergic to latex.
There are non-latex condoms on the market made out of synthetic materials such as polyisoprene, and polyurethane, as well as made out of lambskin. However, non-latex synthetic condoms have a higher rate of breakage, so are effective 95% of the time.
Lambskin condoms protect against pregnancy, but are not as effective as regular latex condoms, and do NOT protect against STIs and HIV because they have small pores that allow some viruses to pass through. Lambskin condoms are made by Trojan NaturalLamb and are a natural animal material made of real lamb skin. The provide heightened sensitivity and are roomier than regular condoms.
Spermicidal Condoms usually contain a spermicide called Nonoxynol-9 which reduces the number of active sperm, thereby decreasing the risk of pregnancy if erection is lost before withdrawal and some semen spills outside the condom, or if a condom breaks. However, Nonoxynol-9 has been shown to irritate the cells in the vagina or rectum causing tiny tears in the mucus membranes which could potentially increase the risk of getting an STD or an infection, including increased chances of getting the HIV virus. Check labels and avoid condoms with N-9.
It is really important to lubricate a condom in order for it not to break via friction. When using your own lubricant only use water-based or silicone lubricant as oil-based lubes will break down the condom material and make them ineffective. The majority of condoms come pre-lubricated for convenience.
Ultra thin condoms are thinner so therefore provide more sensation like texture and temperature and feel more like sex without a condom.
Durex has a brand called Invisible which maximizes the sensitivity between you and your partner for an amazingly Intimate and closer than close experience.
Extra Large Condoms
Extra large condoms come in XL and XXL and are for “big boys” “latex kings” and “magnum” dongs, that is, very large penises. Small condoms that don’t fit can cut off circulation, which can make the penis go limp. They can also rip, tear or burst open if the condom is too small, so not very safe. Make sure you buy the right size condom for your dick. In the case of condoms, size does matter.
Extra Head condoms include have more head room which allows for more friction and sensation on the head of the penis. They are also bigger to accommodate large headed penises. Kimono Max is a good option for these types of condoms.
Cooling, Warming & Tingling Condoms
Cooling, Warming & Tingling Condoms were all designed to heighten sensation using various gels lubricants, like Trojan’s Platinum Pack comes with assorted condoms that contains all three types.
Desensitizing Condoms make you last longer because they have a delay spray inside of them that numb the penis (partially) so the guy can last longer.
Flavored Condoms come in many different varieties such as fruit flavors, chocolate, vanilla, spearmint, cola, candy and even bacon. They are great for giving BJs, but not so great for penetrative sex as they could cause yeast infection in women who are prone to them.
Yes, Scented Condoms, and why not, because maybe you don’t want to smell your partner? I mean really? If that was the case I probably wouldn’t want to have sex with them either, just saying.
Glow in the Dark Condoms
Glow in the Dark Condoms are used for when you lose your lover in the darkness? Maybe? Okay, maybe not, but they are fun to play with I guess. Unlike novelty condoms, these do protect against STIs and pregnancy.
A Novelty Condom is the type that fits over your head. These can’t be used for safer sex for obvious reasons.
Credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Female Condoms are a great alternative to male condoms because it puts the woman in control of her sexual health, and she can decide to wear the condom. They have a 95% success rate at preventing pregnancy and STIs, so just slightly less effective than male condoms.
The female condom is a pouch with flexible rings at each end. Before vaginal intercourse, the ring inside the pouch is inserted deep into the vagina, holding the condom in the vagina. The penis is directed into the pouch through the ring at the open end, which stays outside the vaginal opening during intercourse.
Warning: Female condoms and male condoms cannot be worn at the same time. The friction of intercourse will cause both condoms to break… which defeats the purpose.
Additional benefits of the female condom include:
- Women can still protect themselves even if their partner refuses to wear a condom.
- Women can insert a female condom for up to 6 hours before intercourse, so it doesn’t interfere with the “heat of the moment”.
- The female condom can be used if one or both parties have an allergy to latex.
- The female condom is available over the counter without a prescription.
- The female condom offers additional protection as compared to the male condom because it covers the labia or the “lips” of the vagina.
- Because the female condom is made of polyurethane, which is a slightly thicker rubber than latex, it creates a warming sensation during sex.
A little to trick to enhance sensation for the male partner is to place a little water-based or silicone based lubricant inside of the female condom. This will provide more sensation for him.
A dental damn is a thin, square sheet of latex or polyurethane used for oral to vaginal sex and oral to anal sex to help prevent the persons mouth from coming in contact with any bodily fluids. During oral sex, dental dams should be placed between your mouth and the vagina. During anal sex, dental dams are placed between your mouth and the anus.
Dental dams should only be used one time and on one area of the body before being thrown away. You should never flip (or turn over) already used dental dams because that could result in the exchange of body fluids. Dental dams can also be used with lubricants for increased sensation. You can also put a bit of lubricant (that isn’t oil based) on the side of the dental dam that touches the skin to keep the latex from sticking.
Dental dams also come in a variety of glycerin free flavors to help with the taste.