Category Archives: How Tos

Watch Your Mouth! Protecting yourself during oral sex

oral sex protection tipsWe’ve received requests for more info about condoms that are made specifically for oral sex, as well as other safer oral sex methods.  Indeed, the know-how in this area is not as wide known as it should be.  People are less likely to protect themselves during oral sex…even among those cautious sexers who use condoms consistently.  Perhaps this is because some do not consider oral sex to be “real sex” and thus think it’s less risky.  But the fact is that oral sex is sex (some prefer it to genital sex) and many diseases and infections you can catch or transmit through intercourse you can also get through oral sex, regardless of whether you swallow or not.  As one of our readers pointed out, HPV (the most common STI in the USA today) is often transmitted during oral sex (these are some good sources for more info on HPV: HPV AwakeningScarleteen, SEX,etc.).  So in this post we go through safer oral sex practices and how to find the right method for yourself.

To reduce the risk of STIs, you can use latex or non-latex barriers.  For fellatio (oral sex with penis) use a condom.  For cunnilingus and analingus use dental dams, latex or nitrile gloves, or plastic wrap (but remember, not the microwaveable wrap!).

Fellatio and Condoms Options

A condom for safe oral sex can be perfectly satisfying should the right condom be used according to your tastes and needs.  First of all, do not use condoms or lubricants made with spermicide, such as nonoxynol-9 which can numb your tongue.  And do not use any condoms designed to “extend” male performance, such as Trojan’s Extended Pleasure, as these are made with not-so-tasty benzocaine that will leave an unpleasant sensation in your mouth.  Choose condoms that are water-based (most condoms are) or choose a non-lubricated condom.

For those who do not like the taste of latex or have a latex allergy, there are many non-latex options on the market made of polyisoprene or polyurethane (lambskin does not protect against STIs so do not use them for oral sex!).  These non-latex condoms are virtually odorless and tasteless.  However, most non-latex are difficult to buy in stores or pharmacies; but online stocks are varied and plenty.

Flavored condoms or lubricants are also a good option.  You can buy multipacks to determine your favorite flavor and there are usually small sample packs of lube available at sex-shops.  But be sure to use a lubricant that is compatible with the condom material- oil-based lubes cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene.  There are also flavored gel strips, like Masque, which simply dissolves on your tongue like a candy and the flavor lasts for up to 15 minutes.

Dental Dames and Barriers

If you are giving or receiving oral sex from mouth to vulva (outside of vagina) or mouth to anus there are various barrier methods to protect from STIs: Dental dams or making your own barrier from condoms, gloves, or plastic wrap.

A dental dam is a thin rectangle-shaped sheet used for cunnilingus or analingus to protect against sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.  Like condoms, dental dams are typically made with latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene.  There are flavored dams, colored dams, dams that you hold in place, and non-slip no-hold dams. Unfortunately, dental dams are not as readily accessible in pharmacies and retail stores.  This is part of an all too common and dangerous oversight in safe sex inventory.  Often female safe sex products or non-penetrative sex products are placed secondary to condoms and are not as easily accessible.  This is another advantage to shopping online.  Sexual health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood also supply dental dams.

If you and/or your partner are concerned that oral sex will not feel as amazing with a protective barrier, take some advise from Heather Corinna at Scarleteen.com, and put a few drops (not too many!) of lubricant on the genitals of the receiver before putting on the barrier.  This will keep the material from sticking and will increase sensitivity and sensation immensely.

Check out this pamphlet for more information about STIs and diseases that the dental dam protects against.

If you find dental dams too tricky to get a hold of or not the right material/shape for you, you should try making a barrier just for you or your partner using a condom or glove.

These are some excellent sources for step-by-step instructions on how to make a dental dam from condoms or gloves: YouShouldKnow.caSTD.about.com, PAMF.org.

Hopefully this information will help you receive and perform safer oral sex. If you have any further questions or even some extra tips / experiences to share then please leave a comment below.

Non-Latex Condom Options

purple condomOptions for non-latex condoms today are increasing and more people are choosing non-latex condoms regardless of latex allergies.  This is basically because the latest non-latex options are made of material that is softer, thinner, more elastic than latex rubber.  In this post, we explain basic facts about non-latex condoms, such as what the differences are between polyisoprene and polyurethane, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of different non-latex options. All condoms, except Lambskin, have the advantage of protecting against both sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Condoms do not require clinical visits, they do not alter hormones nor have physical side effects. Non-latex condoms are a key solution for those who are sensitive to latex.  Options include lambskin, polyurethane and polyisoprene condoms, AT-10 synthetic resin and synthetic nitrile rubber. Lambskin condoms, also known as “natural skin” or “sheepskin”, are one of the oldest methods of birth control.  They are made of a thin layer of cecum which is part of the sheep’s intestine.  The organic matter provides such intimate sensation that many users consider them the closest thing to not wearing a condom.  Lambskin condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy.  However, they do not prevent against sexually transmitted bacteria or viral infections, including herpes and HIV.  Now that there are other latex alternatives, lambskin may decline in popularity as other non-latex options- like polyurethane and polyisoprene- do provide protection against STIs and pregnancy.

Want to know the size and variety of non-latex condoms available on the market?  Do a comparative search at our Condom Calculator or visit our Non-Latex Condom and Dams Size Chart.

What are the benefits of lambskin condoms?

  • Lambskin condoms are suitable for people with latex allergies and sensitivities.
  • They are thin and have a high reputation of providing the best pleasure of all condom types.
  • They transmit body heat better than latex.
  • They are biodegradable
  • They can be used with oil, silicon and water-based lubricants
  • They protect against unwanted pregnancy.
  • They are typically available in most drugstores and can be easily bought online.

What are the disadvantages of lambskin condoms?

  • They do not protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
  • They do not protect against the risks of oral sex.
  • They are expensive; approximately $3.00 each compared to the average Trojan latex condom cost of 0.50 each.
  • Trojan is the only manufacturer of lambskin condoms in North America.
  • They are not vegan

The first FDA approved polyurethane condom was Durex Avanti in the 1990s.  Compared to latex, polyurethane condoms are thinner and do not have a scent.  While very durable, polyurethane is less elastic and snug fitting than latex, making the risk of slippage or breakage higher.  Thus lubrication (oil, silicone, or water-base) is highly recommended for penetrative sex.  In 2009, Durex started manufacturing polyisoprene condoms instead of polyurethane, now called Avanti Bare Real Feel. Today, Trojan SUPRA is the most popular polyurethane condom on the North American market.

Benefits of Polyurethane

  • Thinner and less odor than latex
  • Transmits body heat very well
  • Can be used with oil, silicon and water-based lubricants
  • Available for female condoms and dental dams
  • They cost more than latex condoms, but are cheaper than lambskin
  • Ideal for those who prefer less tight, less body forming fit.

Disadvantages of Polyurethane

  • They are less elastic and are loose fitting compared to latex, thus increasing the risk of malfunction if no lubricant is used.
  • They are not biodegradable
  • Not easily accessible in all drugstores or supermarkets

Polyisoprene came on the market in 2008 by LifeStyles SKYN product line, and soon after Durex re-manufactured Avanti Bare Real Feel with the new material.  It is a natural rubber that is chemically similar to latex, but without the latex allergens.  In comparison to polyurethane condoms, polyisoprene is softer, more supple and form fitting, and slightly thicker (similar thickness to standard latex).  To date, polyisoprene condoms are sold in North America by LifeStyles and Durex.

Advantages of Polyisoprene

  • Softer, more elastic and form-fitting than both latex and polyurethane.
  • They transmit heat better than latex
  • They are cheaper than polyurethane condoms, but not as cheap as latex.

Disadvantages of Polyiosprene

  • Not biodegradable
  • Cannot be used with oil-based lubricants
  • Not made in both male and female form.
  • Not as readily available in stores; easier to find and buy online.

Nitrile Rubber: FC2 is the most common female condom globally and the only female condom available in North America.  In 2009, FC2 began manufacturing with nitrile rubber, which offers the same benefits and protection as polyurethane, but is less expensive to produce.  It is also softer and more supple than polyurethane.

Benefits of Nitrile Rubber

  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Protects against STIs and pregnancy
  • Significantly less expensive than other female condoms
  • Less likely to make the infamous crinkling noises as polyurethane femidoms.
  • Softer, more form-fitting, and supple than polyurethane.
  • Can use oil, silicon and oil-base lubricants

Disadvantages of Nitrile Rubber

  • Not biodegradable
  • 2X more expensive than male condoms
  • Not easily accessible in drugstores and supermarkets

This is a post that will be updated.  If you know of other non-latex condom options, please let us know.  And don’t be shy to ask any questions or leave comments here.

Buying Condoms Online

Everyone knows the awkwardness of staring at a store shelf of johnnies with so many questions and confusions (it really shouldn’t be awkward!). But not everyone has considered the advantages of buying condoms online. Sure, internet buying does not solve emergency needs. It can take some online orders up to two weeks to arrive. However, in this article, we consider how the advantages of buying online outweigh that of a pharmacy, corner shop, or grocery store.

Some of the external links are affiliate links that earn us a small commission.

Why buy condoms online

1) Privacy.

It is the most discrete way to buy condoms. Period. With no cashier to check through, you do not need to feel shy about what he or she will think when swiping your 12 pack of whatever type and size condom companies print so boldly on the box. No one will see your purchase.

Most condom distributor websites use discrete packaging and billing information. For example, undercovercondoms.com will ship your order in a plain envelop or box. The name on the return address does not reference anything about condoms or sex-related products. Instead it will read an inconspicuous “PCPD LLC”. The credit card bill will also list “PCPD LL” only. You do not need to ask the storekeeper face-to-face personal questions about which studded condom is the most sensitive or which “snug fit” suits your tool. Your needs can be researched and answered online with full anonymity.

2) Price.

Condoms are less expensive online. At a general DUADEreade in the USA, a box of 12latex condoms can range between $14.50 to $16.00. Online, however, a box of 12 can be $6.00 cheaper. For example, you can buy a 12 pack of Trojan Magnum Thins for $7.99. Even the more expensive non-latex condoms, such as Lifestyles SKYN line made of polyiosprene, can be as low as $6.99- which is about 50% less than the standard retail store price.

There also tends to be more deals offered online. Though no one can beat the price of free condoms one picks up at most health clinics or STI prevention centers (such as Planned Parenthood) there are some online deals that offer free sample packs.

3) Variety of selection.

This is arguably the best advantage to online shopping. Unlike a DUADEreade, there is a great trove of choice online as virtually all condom shape, sizes, textures, tastes are available. Those that are typically harder to access in retail stores, such as female condoms, vegan condoms, or non-latex, are easily retrieved online.

You can also find a great number of reviews and recommendations when exploring new brands or condom materials. This includes the advantage of searching for top sellers as well as the more rare, not so common condom types, like lamb skin or polyiosprene.

To compare condom sizes, types and prices try our Condom Size Calculator.

4) Custom fit condoms.

This service is provided online only. Companies like Coripa.com and TheyFit.co.uk will help you determine your size and recommend a condom for you with a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy. I do not think there are any other stores that would allow you to return a condom if it did not fit well.

What other advantages or disadvantages are there? If you can think of any, or have a relevant experience of buying condoms, please share here.

Confused about how to pick your size? Check out our guide for converting penis circumference to condom width.

Condom Sizes

Using a condom could be one of the most sensible decisions of your life, saving you from STI’s, disease and unwanted pregnancy. However, without looking at the correct sizes, your efforts could prove useless. The wrong size condom will malfunction.

Well, I guess you know that already and that is why you are here looking for your condom size! So let’s get on with it.

HOW TO MEASURE PENIS SIZE

Why do condoms get a bad rap?You need to measure your penis first. Not many condoms companies make their exact measurements available so you need to do some internet research.  Our Condom Size Calculator is a great place to start as it allows you to search over 100 condoms at once. When you know your penis size it makes the shopping process of much faster.

To measure your penis you need the length and girth, and head circumference can also help for some men, but is not always necessary.

  • First of all, your penis needs to be erect.
  • The length should be measured from the point where your penis meets the bottom of your pelvis (the base) to the very end point of the head. You want the condom to be able to reach right to your base where your public bone starts (No need to stretch over and above the pubic hair!)
  • To measure your girth you should get a piece of string or a measuring tape and measure the circumference around the thickest part of your penis along the shaft- usually the mid-point.
  • The same can be done with string or a measuring tape at the thickest part of the head of your penis (if the girth seems significantly different from the shaft).
  • Many condoms simply come in small, medium or large.  It varies from brand to brand, but generally

Small size is 1.60 – 1.9 inches wide at the base (condom laying flat) and 6.7- 7.0 inches long.

Medium size is 2.0- 2.2 inches wide and 7.2 – 7.7 inches long.

Large size is approximately 2.2 – 2.3 inches wide and 7.8 – 8 inches long.

Our general rule of fitting is, if you measure less than 4.8 inches (122mm) in girth, go with a snugger fit.  If you are wider than 5.15 inches (130mm), select Large or XL. See our Table Guide converting penis circumference to condom width.

  • Because condom girth is general reported as the base width- which is measured by the condom laying flat- it can be confusing to translate an exact width that fits your penis girth. As a general guide, we recommend you divide your penis circumference by 2.25.

Why 2.25?

You may be wondering how we got this number.  A study by Gerofi et. al. found that the condom circumference should stretch about 10% to 20% the penis girth (see Condom Sizes and Facts for further details about the analysis). Dividing by 2.25 represents a 12.5% a condom stretch, which is within the recommended ratio. It is an approximation and your preferences may vary, as well as the condom brand’s elasticity. It is important to stay within the ratio.  A common malfunction is the condom slipping off because the condom is too loose. So it is crucial to be aware of how a condom correctly fits.

HOW A CONDOM CORRECTLY FITS

Now with your measurements you can find the correct range of condoms.

You want a condom to fit snugly but not create uncomfortable pressure. Also it should not be baggy anywhere as looseness could cause slippage and rubbing during intercourse that will break the condom.

There needs to be enough extra room to allow a reservoir tip at the head of the condom that hangs with no air inside.  Consider this the sperm pocket.  There should be enough material so that you can pinch the tip comfortably with your thumb and index finger.

The condom should unroll all the way down to the base close to where your pubic hair starts. Try not to catch hair inside.  It might pull and pinch!

To help you find correct condom sizes we organized sizes charts based on major brands.  Here are our Trojan Condom Size Chart and LifeStyles Condom Size ChartDurex Condom Size Chart, Kimono Size Chart, and Beyond Seven Size Chart.

Alternatively, you can read more about condom sizing here and review our fitting solutions chart which suggests specific condoms that are designed to cater for specific needs and solve discomforts such as too tight, too loose, too short, too long.  You might also want to see our guide to different condom shapes.

Put On a Condom…

How Do I Put On a Condom?” is one of the most common questions asked by young men and women. It’s very important that you learn and know how to properly put on a condom so that you get the maximum protection and pleasure.

The procedure is very simple and once you have done it a few times it will be second nature. I would advise guys and gals to practice alone.  It will alleviate any stress or worry about being embarrassed in the crucial moment.

A condom is an amazing thing but is also delicate. So be careful to store the condom where it cannot be pierced. Make sure it is not past it’s expiry date. When opening, be careful to not rip through the condom.  For these reasons always carry a spare or two!

It’s also worth knowing that some types of lubricant can damage latex condoms so only use lubricants that are water or silicon based. KY and Astroglide are perfect. Oil-based lubricants such as butter, vegetable oils or petroleum jelly often damage latex and will make a condom ineffective.

How to Put on a Condom

Every package of condoms is supplied with detailed instructions for care and use. Always read these and always check the expiry date. Never use condoms that are past their expiry date.

1. Put the condom on before your penis touches your partner’s vagina or anus. Fluid (pre cum) can be excreted before and after you ejaculate. This fluid could potentially pass on sexually transmitted infections and could cause pregnancy.

2. Never ever use a condom more than one time. Always use a new one from the packet for each time you get erect and peach time you ejaculate. It is always worth having more condoms than you think you need…. some nights end up that way :)!

3. An average condom is rolled into a ring shape. They are sealed in plastic or foil. Do not tear the condom whilst removing from it’s wrapper. If it is brittle, torn, or there is no air in the package, throw it away and start fresh with a new one.

4. Before you start to put your condom on, squeeze a few drops of lubricant inside the condom (some condoms may be sufficiently lubricated).

5. If you are uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before starting to roll on the condom.  Always apply a condom with a full erection.

6. Place the rolled condom over the tip of your hard penis and begin to roll down the shaft with one hand.

7. Leave approximately half an inch of space (a pinch between two fingers) with no air inside the reservoir tip to collect your semen.

8. Gently pinch the air out of the tip with one hand.

9. Unroll the condom over your penis with the your other hand.

10. Roll it all the way down to the base of your penis.

11. Smooth out any air bubbles. (Friction against air bubbles can cause condom breaks.)

12. Lubricate the outside of the condom (some condoms may be sufficiently lubricated, see individual instructions).

Here are some great step by step illustrations from Scarleteen. 

You may want to direct your partner to these instructions. Putting on a condom can be integrated into foreplay and can be something that your partner can do for you.  Check out our post Condoms Make Me Horny! for tips and ideas.

It’s also advised to watch the video below so that you can see visually how to put a condom on.