How to Choose a Condom
Condoms are still the safest and easiest way to safeguard your sexual health – find out how we can help make them easier to use. Select one of the options below:
- Which condom is best for me?
- Latex or polyisoprene?
- Smaller or bigger?
- Regular or thicker?
- With or without spermicide?
- Standard or novelty condoms?
- Flavoured condoms?
- Male or female condoms?
- Where to get your condoms?
Which condom is best for me?
Condoms come in different sizes, thicknesses, flavours and are made of latex (natural rubber) or polyisoprene (man-made rubber). There’s the more common ‘male condom’, but also the ‘female condom’. Try various sorts to find what’s best for you. Any condom should only be used once.
At the Wolverton we have a condom menu – one of the nurses can help you decide which may be the most suitable condom for you.
Latex or polyisoprene?
Most condoms are made of latex (a kind of rubber). Some brands are made of polyisoprene (a man-made rubber).
Advantages of polyisoprene condoms:
- Useful for people allergic to latex
- Can be used with oil based lubricants
- Softer – some people find them more comfortable
- More expensive
- Not sold in the many places or varieties that latex condoms are
Examples of polyisoprene condoms:
Avanti ultima (Durex)
Smaller or bigger?
Penises come in different sizes; so do condoms. There’s a 1.5cm difference between the smallest and largest condom. Too small and a condom feels too tight and can split; too big and it’s more likely to come off.
Condoms come in different shapes too- some are wider at the top for a better fit.
Durex easy-on shape
|Widened opening makes application easier||Tapered shaft for easier unrolling||Bulbous end give tip of penis additional comfort|
These are all shaped condoms or ‘easy fit’ so flared at top, providing greater comfort for most men.
Shop around for the best fit. Smaller condoms are labelled ‘trim’ or ‘snug fit’, larger ones ‘XL’, ‘XXL’ or ‘Magnum’. Not all shops sell different sizes – the internet has the biggest selection.
Trim or snugger fitting
Larger or longer condoms
We also have a wide selection at the Wolverton – you can ask the nurse to show them to you.
Regular strength or thicker?
The thinner the condom, the more sensation. For more reassurance some people prefer thicker condoms (sometimes called ‘extra strong’ or ‘ultra strong’). These were once recommended for anal sex but we now know that regular (thinner) condoms are just as safe.
With or without spermicide?
Condoms often come covered in ‘spermicide’ (something that kills sperm). One spermicide called Nonoxynol 9 (or N-9) irritates the skin inside the body, making it easier to pick up infections (including HIV). A condom with Nonoxynol-9 is better than no condom but where possible it should be avoided (the packaging says if condoms contain it).
Standard or novelty condoms?
Condom with stimulating rib and dot texture
Condom with minty lubricant to give a tingling sensation
Condom with lubricant that gives a warming sensation
Flavoured condoms for oral sex (orange, banana, strawberry and kiwi)
Condoms come shaped, coloured, flavoured, with or without teats at the tip to collect semen. All these are usually OK for sex but some novelty condoms may not be. In general you should not use flavoured condoms for vaginal or anal sex as they are not lubricated and may irritate the delicate lining of the vagina or rectum.
‘Male’ or ‘female’ condoms?
Regular (‘male’) condoms rely on men being prepared to use them but ‘female’ condoms or femidoms give control to the woman.
Advantages of femidoms:
- The woman is in charge. She puts it inside her vagina before sex, possibly some time before.
- Men might prefer them because it means they don’t have to wear a latex condom.
- Some gay men find them good to use for anal sex.
Disadvantages of femidoms:
- More expensive than male condoms (about £1.50 each).
- Some say they are too noticeable or more likely to break.
Where to get your condoms?
You can buy condoms from:
- Late night shops and garages.
- Vending machines in bars and clubs.
- Online shops – such as www.freedoms-shop.com
Or you can pick them up for free from:
- GUM / sexual health clinics e.g. Wolverton.
- Doctors surgeries.
- Family planning clinics.
- Young person’s services e.g. The point at the Wolverton.
- C Card scheme in Kingston. Click here for further infomation
It’s always worth packing condoms for foreign holidays too – where you’re going it might be difficult to access them, or their safety standards might be lower.