Written by Lucy and Domina Doll | Originally published September 18, 2020 - Last updated January 9, 2024 | Medically reviewed by Dr. Megan Fleming on October 25, 2022

A form of contraception, condoms prevent pregnancies and protect against the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As one of the best forms of contraception to do so, condoms should be a part of your bedroom routine.

In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not protecting yourself and your lover. And with so many different colors, textures, and varieties available, using condoms can even enhance your play!

If you're still curious about all things condoms, we’re here to answer all your questions.

From success rates to sizing, read on to learn more about the wonderful world of condoms.

Condom Basics

What is a Condom?

A condom is a form of external contraception worn by penis owners. It’s the only form of contraception that also prevents pregnancy and the spread of STIs to/from the wearer.

What Are Condoms Used For?

Condoms are a common form of contraception and protect against unwanted pregnancies, but they can also:

  • Protect against sexually transmitted infections

  • Enhance play with textures and/or flavors

  • Revolutionize and improve sexual happiness

Condoms Materials

Most condoms are made of very thin latex (rubber), helping them fit comfortably over the penis. You can also get non-latex condoms, such as ones made from polyurethane or animal skin, if you or your partner has a latex allergy. However, it’s important to note that animal skin condoms only protect against pregnancy, NOT STIS.

You’ll need to make sure that any lubricants you use are compatible with your chosen condom material, or else the condom could degrade, rendering it useless or less effective. While it’s always a good idea to do further research on your own to account for your chosen condoms’ and lubricant’s specific ingredients and formulas, the following fast facts on lube and condom compatibility are a great starting point:

  • Water-based and silicone-based lubricants are compatible with all condom materials

  • Oil-based lubricants (and all other products containing oils such as certain massage lotions) are only safe to use with polyurethane and animal skin condoms

  • Hybrid lubricants with oil-free formulas are safe to use with all condom materials

Most Common Condom Errors

A condom won’t work if it’s used incorrectly. The below condom snafus are some of the most frequent reasons condoms fail by user error:

  • Using the wrong size (check out our condom size chart and info on finding the appropriate fit later on in this guide!)

  • Not using a condom for the entirety of a sexual encounter

  • Not leaving enough space at the tip or squeezing the air from it

  • Putting a condom on inside out

  • Improper withdrawal, leading to leakage

  • Using expired condoms, which can lead to breakage

One study notes that condom errors and problems reported by men attending an STD clinic observed that 19% of cases were associated with fit and feel problems, 15% involved breakage, 14% involved lost erection, 9% associated with lost erection during application, 8% involved slippage during withdrawal, and 7% involved slippage during sex. The CDC also warns that incorrect use diminishes the protective effect of condoms by causing condom breakage, slippage, or leakage.

Types of Condoms

There is a plethora of condom types available to suit a wide variety of needs. To find the best kind for you, familiarize yourself with what’s out there:

Regular Condoms

Designed to offer the best fit for standard-sized penises, regular condoms are produced by a variety of trusted brands. Their standard size, thickness, and ability to protect make them the best condom for beginners. In general, the size of regular condoms measures 190mm in length and 54-66mm in width to comfortably protect most penises.

Delay Condoms

Delay condoms are the most effective condoms if you’re looking to last longer. Using a tiny amount of light anesthetic, like benzocaine, delay condoms reduce sensitivity throughout the whole of the penis, effectively working to delay ejaculation.

They have exactly the same features as regular condoms but are often slightly thicker to help reduce over-stimulation and keep the pleasure going for longer.

Extra-Safe Condoms

Ensure total peace of mind during sex with extra-safe condoms. Thicker than regular condoms, and with added lubrication, extra-safe condoms provide even more safety without compromising on pleasure. The extra lubrication means these condoms are also a great option for anal sex.

Oral Sex Condoms

Taking ‘getting fruity’ to a whole new level, flavored condoms can help you transform your lover into a tasty treat.

Covered with flavored lubes, these condoms come in various tastes and scents, from fruity and sweet to fresh and minty.

And, as well as adding to the fun, using condoms during oral sex can help protect you from many orally-contracted STDs.

Latex-Free Condoms

Non-latex condoms are a fantastic option if you or your partner has a latex allergy.

Made to the same high-quality standard as regular condoms, these clever creations use innovative materials including polyisoprene, polyurethane, and natural membrane to provide the same level of comfort and protection.

Textured Condoms

Offering different textures to stimulate both partners during sex, textured condoms feature sensual dots, ribs, and beads to bring an extra exciting dimension to your pleasure.

With a large selection available from a wide range of trusted brands, make it your mission to discover why these condoms are perfect for both safe sex and great sex!

Extra-Thin Condoms

Experience a closer feeling without compromising on safety with extra-thin condoms. Designed to enhance your pleasure with a skin-on-skin feeling, the minimal thickness allows for greater intimacy between both partners during sex.

Each sensitive condom is made to the same high specifications as regular condoms, offering both quality and security.

Female Condoms

If you or your partner has a vulva, female condoms are a great option. Ideal for insertion hours before intercourse, these condoms allow you to carry on your evening adventures without interruption. They’re also a great alternative for those who don't enjoy the sensation of external condoms.

Proper Condom Usage

When used correctly, condoms can offer protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections – but it's essential that you know how to apply, remove, and utilize them properly

How to Put on a Condom

  1. Remove the condom from its wrapper by tearing along one side and taking it out.

  2. Squeeze the closed (teat-like) end between your forefinger and thumb – this gets rid of any air trapped inside, which could cause it to break.

  3. Make sure the roll is on the outside and place the condom over the erect penis.

  4. Still squeezing the condom tip, roll it down the shaft.

PRO TIP: Get lubey!

Using a good water-based lubricant with a condom is also one of the best ways to avoid breakage during sex.

  • To make insertion more comfortable, use lube for condoms on both the covered penis and the area it’s entering.

  • To make the experience even more pleasurable, you can place a couple of drops of lube inside the tip of the condom to increase the sensations.

How to Remove a Condom

After ejaculation, move away from your partner and withdraw your penis from the condom, holding gently at the tip and at the base to avoid any spillage. Then, wrap it in a tissue and dispose of it in the trash. Never flush a condom down the toilet.

Condom Safety 101

Now that you know how to put one on (and remove it), it’s time to learn the essentials of proper usage:

  • Never use a condom more than once.

  • Always apply the condom before any penetrative play begins, including oral. The early stages of an erection can contain sperm and organisms that can cause STIs, so make sure you wrap it up before you get going.

  • Make sure the condom hasn’t passed its expiration date - this should be written on the packet - and that there are no holes or cuts in the wrapper.

  • Make sure the condom stays in place during sex. If it rolls up, roll it back into place before continuing with your sex session. If it slips off, dispose of it and put on a new one before sex continues.

Recommended Condoms

Finding the Right Condom Size

Are you wearing the right size of condom? From extra small to large condom sizes - choosing your best fit is essential for safe and pleasurable sex. We asked a couple of our favorite sex experts, Sarah Martin and Amanda Moser, to weigh in with their wisdom on how to choose the correct condom size.

Then, keep reading to learn more about the different condom sizes available and to check out our handy condom sizing chart!

The Importance of Properly Fitted Condoms

Anti-fascist sex and dating coach Sarah Martin explains why wearing the correct condom size is super important: “Using a condom that fits properly has several benefits. In addition to providing the best possible protection against STIs and pregnancy, using the right size of condom dramatically enhances your pleasure and your partner's pleasure. Before deciding that condom sex is uncomfortable, you need to check whether or not the condoms you are using are too small or too large.”

Sexologist and cannabis researcher Amanda Moser agrees: “Using the appropriate size condom consistently and correctly each time increases one's protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).”

The Problem with Too-Small Condoms

Sarah Martin says: “Too-small condoms are at risk of breaking, which puts you and your partner potentially at risk of STIs or, if you are with a partner that can conceive, at risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

“Wearing the wrong-size condom can affect erectile abilities and ejaculation. Trying different sizes and brands of condoms can help discover which works best for you,” says Amanda Moser.

Sarah Martin says: “Most of the time, when someone injures themselves with a condom it relates back to improper use - for example, putting on a condom earlier in the day in anticipation of sex and wearing it for many hours. In the context of inappropriate use, having a condom that is too small could certainly exacerbate the problems that can arise. That said, a too-small condom breaking and snapping can cause an injury (bruising) to yourself or your partner.”

While protecting yourself against STIs and pregnancy are common worries, Amanda says, “Wearing the appropriate size condom can be more pleasurable too!”

Sarah Marin explains why: “Using condoms that are too small is uncomfortable - it can pinch and pull on your skin in unpleasant, sometimes painful ways. If using a condom actively feels bad, you're less likely to be consistent using condoms. Also, condom breaks hurt! It's like having a rubber band snap against your very sensitive parts. Finally, too-small condoms cause extra trouble for people with foreskin. A right-sized condom allows enough space for your foreskin to move, which is an important component of experiencing pleasure during condom sex.”

The Problem with Too-Large Condoms

“Too-large condoms have drawbacks, too. They are more likely to slip off during play, putting you and your partner potentially at risk of STIs and, where relevant, unwanted pregnancy,” says Sarah Martin. “The extra material can also be uncomfortable for your partner on penetration, especially if you aren't using additional lube. The condom can bunch, pinch, and pull at your partner's skin. A too large condom, finally, can make it harder to feel a pleasurable sensation.”

That makes sense!

Amanda Moser adds: “A condom that is too big may fall off and can possibly be left inside of your partner (and not provide any protection).”

Yes, that’s scary! A game of “find the lost condom” is not one anyone wants to play! Ensuring the correct condom width is critical for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Good Condom Fit = Good Condom Feel

Choosing the right-sized condom feels good and leads to more pleasurable sex during penetration. However, the wrong size could cause irritation and erectile issues.

Sarah Martin tells us why: “Wearing condoms that aren't a good fit reduces the pleasure you're able to experience from penetrative sex. If sex doesn't feel good, it's totally logical that you may lose your erection or be unable to ejaculate. I wouldn't call this erectile dysfunction, though. I'd call it ‘condom selection dysfunction’ - something that is really easy to fix!”

Condom Sizes Explained

When it comes to choosing condoms, size definitely does matter.

Condoms should fit around the penis without being loose. If the condom is too big, it could slip off during sex, decreasing its effectiveness as a contraceptive/STI barrier.

But you don’t want the condom to be too tight either, as this can be uncomfortable and may lead to the latex tearing.

To help make sure the fit is right, many brands make condoms in a range of sizes.

Small-Size Condoms

The smallest condom size ranges from about 2” in width to fit a penis circumference of 4.7” or less. Lengthwise, they are usually under 5”, so are perfect condoms for small penises. Durex makes many condoms for small-size penises. Also, Trojan Sensitivity BareSkin Thin is one of the smallest sizes we carry.

Is there such a thing as extra-small condoms? Small-sized condoms are called snugger fit. These are the best condoms for smaller-size penises available on the market today.

Regular-Size Condoms

A medium condom size (called standard or regular size) is around 2.05-2.13” in width for a 4-5” in penis girth. Standard condoms are between 5 to 7.5” in length. Typically, those are the best condoms for an average penis size, which is around 5.1” to 5.5”. Medium condom size is the most popular size of condom, for most penises.

Large-Size Condoms

Large or extra-large condom size measures 2.13” in width and larger, to fit a girth of 5.1” or bigger. Larger condom lengths are over 8”, generally speaking.

Large-size condoms would be best for men with a penis size over 5.5” up to 8.5” in length. If you need an extra-large size, then the Trojan Magnum Large BareSkin Extra Thin is one of the largest-sized condoms you can find.

Finding Your Measurements

So, how big is your John Willie? To find the right size condom, we need to figure out what size your penis is first. Be sure to grab a measuring tape as we'll be using no guestimates to measure condom size!

Here’s how to figure out the actual length and girth of your penis. Keep in mind that you need to measure yourself while you have a full erection.

  • Length: With a cloth measuring tape (the kind you find in a sewing kit) or using a string, measure from the base of the erect penis topside, pressing against the pubic bone, in a straight line down the shaft to the tip of the head of your penis. Voila! That is your penis length.

  • Girth: Using the same tape measure or string, wrap it around your penis where it is thickest, which will be closest to the base. That will be the girth or circumference size of your penis.

Now, use the Condom Size Chart below to check the different brands and choose the best condom for you.

Still confused? No problem. Check out our YouTube video on How to Measure Your Penis For a Condom, where Anabelle Knight explains what you can expect from the different types of condoms and gives you a quick and handy life hack for finding the right-size condom for you.

Condom Size Chart

This condom size chart shows what size condoms to buy for your penis length and circumference, including:

  • Average condom size (or standard condom size).

  • Large condom sizes and extra-large condom sizes.

  • Measurements of condom length and width.

  • Features some of the most popular condom brands.

Condom Features Size in Girth Size in Length
Trojan Condoms
Trojan Sensitivity BareSkin Thin Extra thin latex condom for increased sensitivity. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 6.69 - 7.48 in.
Trojan Supra Non-Latex Polyurethane Condoms Extra thin “BareSkin design” for increased sensitivity. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Polyurethane. Base Width 2.28 in. Large 7.1 - 7.9 in.
Trojan Extended Pleasure Coated internally with Climax Control Lubricant. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Contains Benzocaine. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 6.7 - 7.5 in.
Trojan ENZ Premium Lubricated Classic straight condom. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 6.69 - 7.48 in.
Trojan Magnum Large Extra large for extra comfort. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.17 in. Large 7.1 - 7.9 in.
Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations Large Ribbed for enhanced pleasure. Extra large for extra comfort. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Large 6.9 - 7.7 in.
Trojan Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy Extra Large. Ribbed for enhanced pleasure. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Comfort shape for freedom of movement. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Large 7.5 - 8.3 in.
Trojan Magnum Large Ultra Thin Extra large for extra comfort. Extra thin latex condom for increased sensitivity. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.17 in. Large 7.1 - 7.9 in.
Trojan Magnum XL Extra large for extra comfort. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.3 in. Large 7.1 - 7.9 in.
Trojan Magnum Large BareSkin Extra Thin Extra thin “BareSkin design” for increased sensitivity. Extra large for extra comfort. Tapered at the base for a secure fit. Special-shaped reservoir tip. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.24 in. Large 7.5 - 8.3 in.
Durex Condoms
Durex Prolong Delay Textured Thicker and coated with climax control lubricant to help you last longer. Ribbed for her pleasure. Reservoir tip. Latex. Width 2.2 in. Large 8.0 in.
Durex Performax Intense Coated with climax control lubricant to help you last longer. Ribbed, dotted, and lubricated to intensify sensation. Lubricated. Reservoir tip. Latex. Width 2.2 in. Standard 7.5 in.
Durex Tropical Mixed Flavored Flavored with tropical orange, banana, and strawberry. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.13 in. Standard 7.5 in.
Durex Avanti Bare Real Feel Non Latex Non-latex made from RealFeelâ„¢ material to replicate skin-on-skin sensations. Polyisoprene non-latex. Width 2.2 in. Standard 7.5 in.
Durex Pleasure Pack Assorted Assorted condoms with textured, flavored, delay, and extra-lubricated varieties. Latex Assorted. Standard 7 in.
Durex Extra Sensitive Ribbed Extra thin and ribbed for ultimate pleasure. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.08 in. Standard 7.5 in.
Lifestyles Condoms
LifeStyles Ultra-Thin Lubricated Ultra-thin for more pleasure. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 7 in.
SKYN Non Latex Lubricated Soft Skynfeel formula emulates a natural feeling. Non-latex synthetic polyisoprene. Lubricated. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 7 in.
LifeStyles SKYN Extra Lubricated Non Latex Latex-free with extra lubrication for extra-slippery pleasure. Made from SKYNFEEL. Base Width 2.08 in. Standard 7 in.
LifeStyles SKYN Large Non Latex Soft Skynfeel formula emulates a natural feeling. Non-latex synthetic polyisoprene. Lubricated. Base Width 2.2 in. Large 7.8 in.
LifeStyles Extra Strength Extra thick, extra strength. Lubricated. Latex. Base Width 2.09 in. Standard 7.5 in.
One Condoms
ONE Flavor Waves Multi-pack flavored: chocolate strawberry, island punch, fresh mint, and banana split. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.08 in. Standard 7.5 in.
ONE Tattoo Touch Ribbed Ribbed for extra pleasure. Cool tattoo design. Latex. Width 2.08 in. Standard 7.5 in.
ONE Vanish Hyper-Thin Hyper-thin for supreme closeness during safe sex. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.08 in. Standard 7.5 in.
ONE Pleasure Plus Roomy pleasure pouch tip for extra pleasure. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.08 in. Standard 7.5 in.
ONE Mixed Pleasures Multipack of 6 different types of One condoms in a pocket-sized travel tin. Glow-in-the-dark, extra-lubed, and flavored condoms. Lubricated. Latex. Assorted. Standard 7.5 in.
Kimono Condoms
Kimono MicroThin Sheer Variety Pack Micro-thin, variety pack in micro-thin, large, extra lube, and ribbed. Lubricated. Latex. Assorted. Standard - Lrg 7.5-7.6 in.
KimonoMicroThin Plus Ultra-thin, thinnest Kimono condom for a natural feel. Water-based Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.05 in. Standard 7.68 in.
Kimono MicroThin Barely There Made from ultra-thin latex. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.05 in. Large 8.0 in.
Kimono MicroThin Ribbed Sensi-Dots Micro-thin and ribbed with sensi-dots. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.05 in. Standard 7.5 in.
Kimono MicroThin Large Ultra-thin latex for a realistic feel. Lubricated. Latex. Width 2.05 in. Large 7.7 in.
Lelo Condoms
Lelo Hex Premium ultra-thin condom with hexagon webbing, for greater connectivity and pleasure. Latex. Width 2.12 in. Standard 7.5 in

Condom FAQs

Are condoms 100% effective?

While they’re the most common form of contraception, condoms aren’t 100% effective.

But don’t panic! Condoms are 98% effective, meaning they are pretty darn effective. And, since they’re external, you can combine them with other contraceptive methods like the pill or the implant (IUD) to minimize the risk of pregnancy.

Condoms are also the only contraceptive that prevents the spread of STIs, so they are still worth using during anal or oral sex.

How long are condoms good for?

All condoms have an expiration date which should be printed on the packet. After this date, the condom becomes a lot less effective and can be damaged more easily, so be sure to check the packaging before use.

Can condoms cause infection or irritation?

While most people should be okay to use latex condoms, they can cause irritation if you have an allergy. If that’s the case, try out some non-latex condoms to see if that helps. If the irritation or infection comes back, speak to your doctor.

How often do condoms fail?

Since they’re 98% effective, condoms don’t fail that often. When they do fail, it could be for several reasons such as being expired, getting torn or getting damaged from oil-based products like Vaseline or oil-based lube.

Can you re-use condoms?

No! Condoms are single-use and should be thrown away once you’ve finished. Re-using condoms can lead to the spread of STIs and even pregnancy.

What does a condom look like on?

The condom should cover the penis, from the head to the base, with a little space at the tip to collect the semen.

Should you always wear a condom?

“Unless you and your partner have agreed to be fluid bonded and have explicitly agreed to stop using condoms - yes, you should always wear one during sexual play. This will be an individual negotiation between you and your partner(s). This is one reason why you will do your sex life a massive favor if you find condoms that are the perfect fit for you!” says Sarah Martin.

Do I need condoms for anal sex?

Condoms don’t just protect you from unwanted pregnancies, they are critical in keeping you and your partner safe from STDs. This means it’s essential to wear a condom when having anal sex. Condoms are more likely to tear or come off during anal sex; this is why it's important to make sure your chosen condom is safe to use and fits you properly. You might want to go for an extra-strong option and use plenty of lube, too.

Do I need condoms for oral sex?

Wearing a condom or a dental dam during oral sex is the only way to protect yourself from orally transmitted STIs. Don’t love that rubbery taste in your mouth? Don’t blame you. Luckily the range of flavored condoms available rivals that of an ice cream store. Whether you like a minty taste or prefer something a little fruitier (blueberry cheesecake, for instance), you’re sure to find a flavored condom to whet your whistle.

More Sexual Happiness Advice

Sex Toy Advice
With so many great sex toys to choose from, our toy guides help you narrow down the best toys for you and how to make the most of them once you find the one that's right for you
Better Sex Advice
Give your sexual happiness a boost and discover ways to make your sex life more fulfilling with our guides for improving your sex skills.
Sexual Health & Wellness Advice
Expert advice on how to address common sexual health concerns and boost your sexual wellness.
Bondage Advice
Advice on everything from starting out with a little tie-and-tease play to dialling up your kinkiness to 10
Lubes & Sex Essentials Advice
Covering everything from choosing the right lube to cleaning and storing your toys
Lingerie Advice
Advice on everything from choosing the right style for your body shape to finding the right Lovehoney size