Ahh, the condom. Also known as the jimmy, the nightcap, the sheath, and more, condoms are a contraceptive with a history that goes back hundreds of years. Much the same as now, condoms of the past were used to prevent disease and pregnancy. They were made from a variety of materials, from silk and linen to animal intestines. The condom-wearers of centuries past had to contend with high failure rates, wrong sizing, zero quality control and dampened sensitivity.
But things got better. Inventors innovated rubber latex, then lubricated latex condoms. Now people can choose from an impressive variety of condoms in various sizes, flavors, and constructions—what a time to be alive.
Different types of Condoms
The sheer variety of condom types out there can be overwhelming. But fret not, because choosing the wrong kind doesn't mean it won't work. When used correctly, a condom is 98% effective against pregnancy. So with that pressure gone, you can have some fun selecting the best condom for you.
The one you're most likely to encounter, latex condoms are standard, relatively comfortable, and reliable. You can find an assortment of latex (and non-latex) styles with a medley of lubrication and in a range of sizes and thicknesses. These are ideal for penetrative sex and to use with sex toys to prevent STI transfer.
Not everyone is a fan of latex, either because they have an allergy or don't like how it feels. In that case, there are alternatives. These include non-latex condoms — usually made of natural or synthetic rubber — and natural skin condoms (these come from animals). Be aware, though, that these latex substitutes can be less effective at preventing pregnancy, and some won't protect against STIs.
One you don't hear about as often, female condoms work by being inserted into the vagina to rest against the cervix. When used correctly, they are slightly less effective than male condoms and can be tricky to the position just right. These are a solid option for vulva-owners who want control over their protection.
Textured & Pleasure-Shaped Condoms
Creative minds realized that shaping or texturing condoms a certain way could up the pleasure factor. This can mean raised ribbing, studs, or a contoured shape with a broad tip. Some are designed to please both partners, while others are explicitly geared toward male or female pleasure.
Flavored & Novelty Condoms
For the adventurous, novelty condoms can be a hit. Many are just as effective as latex but happen to come in fun colors, glow in the dark, or have a flavor to them. Flavored and edible condoms are intended for oral sex and shouldn't be used for penetrative sex unless the packaging explicitly says so.
There are ticklers condoms designed to — you guessed it — tickle the partner not wearing it. These might sport hair-like protrusions, bumps, and even particular extensions and usually aren't made to protect against pregnancy or STIs. Novelty condoms can create tons of titillating fun, but be sure you're fully briefed on what one can and can't do.
Sensation condoms use special lubricants that make you feel tingles from warming and cooling sensations. Some can help you last longer thanks to desensitizing lube, while others offer extra lubrication — a plus for anal fun.
These are some of the best condoms you can use and the most prominent players in the condom space, but it doesn't stop there. Some honorable mentions include finger condoms, custom-fit condoms, environmentally friendly choices, and spermicidal condoms.
Male and female condoms have a shelf life of three to five years when stored properly, so nothing stops you from stocking up. Keep both types away from chemicals and store male condoms away from direct sunlight, humidity, and in reasonable temperatures — that means no glovebox storage, car sex lovers.
How To Put a Condom on Correctly?
Properly putting on a condom is one of the easiest things you can do, yet it can be tricky to master. That's okay! You might have learned in school on a banana and found your education lacking. We're here to help simplify things:
Run through a mental checklist. Is the condom within its expiration date? Has it been stored properly? Are you using the right one for the type of sex you're having? Check, check and check.
Open it up carefully. It can be tempting to rip that bad boy open in your excitement, but then you risk pulling the condom itself. Instead, gently tear one of the jagged edges open with your fingers. Avoid using sharp objects or your teeth — either can tear the condom inside.
Get ready to roll. With the condom facing the right way up (it should resemble a little hat with the rim on the outside), get ready to roll it on. You can unroll it a little bit to make things easier, but don't unroll it all the way. If it falls onto the bed or your partner, it's still safe to use. How to put on a condom without being awkward depends on your sense of humor, so try to laugh off these things when they happen. If it falls somewhere unclean or you put it on inside out, it's not safe to use — try, try again.
Give it a pinch. As you position the condom over a penis, pinch the nub at the end with your index finger and thumb. That way, once it's been unrolled completely, you have some room left in the top for semen during ejaculation. You can skip this part if you're putting it on a toy.
Keep rolling. Unroll that baby down the shaft of the penis to the base. If you're using water or silicone-based lube (no oil!), you can pop a few drops inside the tip before you roll the condom down. Not only does lube make it feel better, but it also helps prevent friction and breaking.
- Get frisky.
- Remove with care. After you've finished or ejaculated, hold on to the base of the condom while you pull out. Roll it off, tie it in a knot and toss it into the trash. It's best to take the condom off a penis that's still hard to avoid spilling semen.
What if the condom breaks while you're putting it on or taking it off? If it happens while putting it on, take it off and get a fresh one. If you're removing it gently and it breaks, do your best to keep any semen off your partner. If there has been an exchange of bodily fluids, consider getting an STI screening and grab an emergency contraceptive from any pharmacy.
How To Put on a Condom Uncircumcised
If you or your partner has an uncircumcised penis, how to put on a condom with foreskin is still pretty much the same. Many uncircumcised people pull their foreskin back before rolling on a condom. However, if you don't, it won't interfere with its efficacy. As a matter of personal preference, how to put on a condom, if not circumcised, simply has to do with what feels better for you. Decide what you like and proceed as usual.
Like a Glove
Putting on and taking off a condom takes practice to make perfect. You don't want to wait until you're in the heat of the moment to figure it out, so give it a few tries before you get lucky to make sure you've got it down. Eventually, putting a condom on the right will become second nature. So long as you have a positive attitude, are willing to laugh a little, and take your time, you've got this.
Looking for the right condom for you and your boo? Here are our top ten favorites:
- Trojan Intensified Charged
- Endurance Condom Strawberry
- Lover Cover Mixed Condoms
- Trojan Supra Microsheer
- Lifestyles Skyn Large
- Paradise Slim Fit Condoms
- One Mixed Pleasures
- Lifestyle Asst Flav
- Trojan Magnum Ecstasy
- Kimono Micro Thin W Aqua Lube
The story of the condom. (January 2013). Indian Journal of Urology.
9 Types of Condoms You Should Know About. (March 2021). Health.
Why Are Condoms Flavored?. (August 2018). Healthline.
Condom Storage and Distribution Guidelines. (October 2017). Minnesota Department of Health.
How to put a condom on. (January 2021). Planned Parenthood.
How do you put on a condom if I have an uncircumcised penis? Do I have to pull my foreskin back? Does it have to be over the testicles also?. (April 2020). Planned Parenthood.