How to buy condoms that you will actually use

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Condoms have a bad reputation. Although they have been around since the beginning of time (well, modern condoms were invented in the 18th century) and are a fairly reliable and safe way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, their use has been on the decline since around 2015.

I think most people would agree that the trend is not positive. CDC data suggests that STI rates hit an all-time high in 2019 for the sixth straight day.

One of the reasons people don’t like condoms is that they use the wrong type or size. Yes, fit matters! (When was a one-size-fits-all approach to anything ever a good idea?) If a condom is too small, it’s more likely to break. On the other hand, if it’s too big, something could spill or just fall off.

According to Melissa White, founder and CEO of fit-focused condom supplier Lucky Bloke, only about 50% of people with penises should wear a medium or regular fit condom, which is about 90% of what you’ll see on store shelves in conventional retail.

Another 30% to 35% need a tighter, more secure fit, and the remaining 10% to 15% may need a larger or magnum condom. And no, condom size isn’t really related to length, so put away your ruler or tape measure. Instead, take an empty toilet paper roll and measure the circumference (if it fits snugly, you probably have a standard fit; too tight and you should grow taller, too much room and you should grow shorter).

While it may be tempting for people with penises to grab a magnum as a status symbol, experts strongly advise against using oversized condoms.

People probably don’t talk about condoms enough

All too often, sex education fails in the US, and that certainly can apply to condom knowledge, too, said Ashley Townes, a CDC postdoctoral researcher who focuses on sexual health. A stigma against buying the right size condom can be rampant, especially among teenagers who just don’t know any better.

Townes, a former sex educator, explained that most people don’t learn everything they need to know about choosing and using the right condom.

“You’re getting a lesson in talking about birth control, and condoms are just a fraction of all the different birth control options available,” she said. “You don’t have a lot of time to delve into it, so even as an educator it can be challenging to really delve into it, How to choose a suitable one? How do you choose one that feels good to you?

And the information her students have been given about condom use is more than some people get, including those in schools that don’t teach sex education at all.

“Sex education is not compulsory in the United States,” said Éva Goicochea, founder of sexual wellness company Maude. “Even if it is, it’s not always medically correct, and so what happens is that when they teach about condoms, they often don’t have the ability to open them in the classroom, so it’s harder to talk about using them.” “

Condom use has dropped somewhat from the conversation as the focus has shifted to consent and sexual assault prevention, said social demographer Laura Lindberg.

“What we’re seeing in general in sex education and health education is that as certain issues become more important, there’s less space and time to talk about other things that used to be discussed because nobody is adding the time,” she said.

A 2021 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health of 2,291 college students found that people were more comfortable talking to partners about consent than condom use or STI prevention.

“In my era, I was literally the first group to get that, Here’s a banana. Here’s a condom. This is important because anyone around you could have HIV‘ Lindberg said. “Well, the first conversation you hear your first week on a college campus is about consent. But they don’t have two conversations, so you don’t have a place to talk about condoms.”

Finding the right condom can mean better sex

One benefit of wearing a properly fitting condom is that it also feels better, probably for both partners.

“A common response we get is that using a condom interferes with your pleasure,” said Lindberg, who is also a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, referring to the responses they received to their surveys. “I think we have to be honest that it can affect people’s sexual pleasure and here are steps you can take to improve that.”

Aside from finding the right fit, Lindberg had one key piece of advice for making condom sex feel better: “Smear, smear, smear.”

Townes agreed, noting that people often don’t want to use lube, even though it can increase pleasure and decrease the feel of the condom itself. White added that the use of lubricant also makes the condom more effective from a safety standpoint.

“Latex condoms, in particular, are inherently drying,” White said. “So your partner will eventually become dehydrated, which makes the condom less secure.”

White recommends putting a few drops inside the condom and a generous amount on the outside to increase pleasure for both parties and reduce friction to maximize safety. Townes also recommended trying compatible sex toys with your condom to spice things up, like a vibrating cock ring or an external vibrator that doesn’t interfere with the condom’s effectiveness.

People still use condoms, just not often enough

Despite the fact that condoms are used less consistently today than they were 10 years ago, Lindberg thinks it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come in making condoms more socially acceptable. Her research shows that the use of condoms during first intercourse has increased dramatically, and 9 out of 10 sexually active teens have used a condom at some point.

“There are no overall declines in contraceptive use,” Lindberg said. “So young people are replacing condoms with other birth control methods, and I think that speaks to the increasing availability and awareness of long-acting reversible birth control methods like the pill.”

As great as it is that there are so many other birth control methods out there, only condoms can protect against both STIs and pregnancy. Depending on your access to health care, condoms may also be easier to obtain since they do not require a prescription and are relatively inexpensive. This can be especially appealing if you don’t have regular sex and don’t want to be on birth control all the time. And on a very basic level, they make sex less messy.

Some may question its effectiveness, but Lindberg assured that the best route for a condom to fail is not to use it. (In truth, when used correctly, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.)

If you find that you face obstacles in buying condoms in real life, such as: B. Fear of judgmental drugstore clerks or meeting your old English teacher, this guide should help.

All of these condoms are available online for an embarrassing buying experience.

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