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Sex - Sex Ed | June 21, 2021, 11:18 CDT

Pick a Condom, Any Condom
Want to be prepared for penetration? Here's what to choose from for protection and pleasure.
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Photography by David Heisler

Condoms are the OG contraception method. However, fewer young people are opting to wrap it up these days, with condom use falling from 62 percent to 54 percent among high school students. Although not 100 percent effective, condoms do drastically decrease the risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In fact, they're the only barrier method against contracting an STD.

While there are numerous other types of contraception available, including birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the morning-after pill, condoms are still likely your number-one choice for STD protection. Moreover, they come in a variety of textures, sizes and even flavors to enhance your sexual encounters.

Types of condoms

When you visualize a condom, you probably think of a latex sheath that covers the penis. However, there are an astounding variety of condom types to choose from, all differing in sensations and materials.

External

An external condom—also called a "male" condom—is a covering that fits over an erect penis or sex toy. It can be used for vaginal, anal or oral sex. Typically made from latex, external condoms are also available in non-latex materials, such as lambskin or polyurethane.

Internal

An internal condom is basically a pouch that is worn inside the anus or vagina. Think of it as an inverted traditional condom.

Textured or studded

Ribbed condoms are textured to boost sexual pleasure. Some textured condoms feature ribbing on the top and at the base. Others have raised studs on either the inside or the outside to increase satisfaction for both partners.

Spermicide

Spermicidal-lubricated condoms are external condoms coated with a sperm-killing chemical to lower the chance of pregnancy.

Warming

Warming condoms are made from thinner latex and include a warming lubricant that is activated by moisture. This gentle sensation heightens pleasure for both partners.

Pleasure-shaped

These wide-tipped condoms increase friction due to the excess latex stimulating the tip of the penis. Some brands offer a winding shape to stimulate more nerve endings.

Novelty

Novelty condoms, including glow-in-the-dark and colored condoms, aim to make your sexual encounter more playful.

Flavored and edible

Condoms with flavors and aromas add to the enjoyment of the partner giving oral sex. The flavoring may be coated on the condom or found in the lubricant. Condom flavors vary and can include mint, strawberry, chocolate and even bacon. Edible condoms are safe to ingest and can be coyly eaten, licked and sucked off the wearer.

Tips for optimizing condom usage

While many people may assume that wearing a condom can detract from their sexual pleasure, quite the opposite is true: Condoms can actually enhance your time between the sheets.

The first step to enjoying satisfying sex with a condom is finding the perfect fit. Condoms should fit snugly, but not so tight as to cause breakage or discomfort. You'll need to know your width, length and girth measurements to find the right fit.

Never wear an expired or used condom. For marathon sex sessions, change your condom every half-hour to prevent breakage.

A few drops of lube inside of a condom go a long way. The extra slickness will create a suctioning effect, increasing the sensation around the head of the penis as you thrust. Trying textured or warming condoms will also enhance the experience.

A study by Indiana University found that lubricants help women have more pleasurable and satisfying sex. So, make sure to add lube to the outside of a condom, too.

Condoms, if used correctly, can offer both protection and pleasure. With such a wide variety of condoms available, why wouldn't you choose to glove up?

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