Unless you are subjected to alarmist abstinence-only programs, condom usage is typically treated as a fundamental component of sex education. It is taught as basic biological knowledge, like an advanced lesson following "the birds and the bees" talk. If you’re lucky, the educator will demonstrate how to roll a condom onto a penis-model or banana. However, when it comes to pleasure, most of us are on our own. In other words, we learn how to apply and dispose of condoms, but very few are taught anything about them.
There is a lot to condoms that sex education should be teaching, but isn't. This is a major flaw. Instead of focusing only on condoms as a protective measure, we need to frame the conversation around sexual pleasure. As recent studies by the International Planned Parenthood Federation show, discussing pleasure increases consistent use of condoms. So here are four pleasure-focused things about condoms that everyone should know.
1) Fitting matters. Know your width.
Sex education remains stuck in the 1930s and still treats condoms as if there is only one size for everyone. The fit is absolutely essential for both pleasure and safety, and there are many sizes and shapes available today. The key is to know your penis girth and how that translates into condom width.
What Size Condom Do I Need?
If you have a penis, you should know your size. If you don’t know your partner’s size, you should be prepared and carry different size condoms. Don’t just keep one size near your bed. Size samplers and variety packs can be bought online privately. Lucky Bloke supplies a handy “Not Sure What Condom Size To Buy” sampler. They also offer samplers in three main sizes: smaller condoms, medium condoms, and larger condoms.
More from YourTango: Determine Your Partner's Condom Size.
2) Know your shape.
Another common complaint is that the headroom is either too tight or too loose. But there are condoms out there to solve these issues. In general, condoms come in at least three main shapes: classic straight shape, contoured flare shape, and bulbous headroom. Classic straight shape condoms are usually 52mm wide all the way up to the reservoir tip. Most ultrathin condoms are designed with a straight shape, like LifeStyles Skyn and many Beyond Seven condoms.
Flare shape means the condom opens slightly wider at the base and has a bell-shaped head making it easier to roll-on. One of the most popular flare shapes out there is Durex Maximum Love. There is quite a variety of contoured shapes, but this generally means that the condom fits tight along the shaft and is tapered under the head for a more secure fit. For those that want a closer fitting head, we recommend Kimono Thin and LifeStyles 3SUM. Check out Lucky Bloke’s helpful pleasure shape condom sampler for more ideas.
Oversized headed condoms are pretty self-explanatory and most large condoms are designed this way. One of the roomiest headed condoms is LifeStyles Pleasure Tipped (with a whopping 74mm head width!). Some condoms, like ONE Pleasure Plus, are designed with an extra “pleasure pouch” that acts like foreskin to enhance friction and stimulate both partners.
3) Know your style
There are thin, thick and non-latex condoms. How do you like the idea of extra stimulation? Arousal condoms are designed to enhance friction, particularly for the vagina, with raised dots or ribs, or a combination of both. View which textured condoms are top rated in Lucky Bloke’s ribbed and textured condom sampler.
Then there are arousal condoms with built-in warming, cooling or tingling lube, such as Trojan Charged Condoms and Fire & Ice. Some people really don’t like these, but others do. The best thing to do is experiment (or practice with yourself) using different products.
Another type are delayed condoms. Condoms like Durex Performax have anesthetic cream built into the reservoir tip which slightly numbs the head of the penis to make guys last longer.
4) Lube lube lube!
On the topic of lubes, it cannot be stressed enough how important lubrication is for sensual and safer sex. Rarely is it taught that lubrication increases safety and pleasure, this is very important especially for those who practice anal sex. Adding one or two drops of lube will dramatically decrease any irritating rubbery friction that some experience from latex condoms.
Most condoms are pre-packaged with water-based lube on the inside of the condom, but often this is not enough. Lubes are not just for people who experience dryness. If you or your partner(s) complain that condoms reduce sensitivity, adding your favorite variety of lubrication will increase sensation immensely. Also like condoms, there is a variety of tasty flavored lubes to make oral sex safer and taste better.
Until sex education programs dramatically improve, we need take imitative in educating ourselves about the different kinds and sizes of condoms. This is about you taking responsibility for your pleasure.
This guest post was written by Lara Worcester, Lucky Bloke contributor and editor & contributor at Condom Monologues. They believe in the power of story to relearn sexual safety and affirm sexuality. Find them on social media spaces like Facebook and Twitter.