Let's talk about the poster child of safe sex- the condom or rubber. Condoms are the invention that saved us from Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Sexually Transmitted Infections and unplanned pregnancies but they're not a novel creation at all. Albeit, in different forms, condoms have been around since ancient ages.
Ancient Romans used a sheath of linen as a protective glove for their penis while the Japanese would use condom-like protection made from tortoiseshell or horn. Ensuingly arrived the lambskin condoms that are still available to date! It's safe to say that no matter the civilization, the rule of "no glove, no love" has stayed constant. Condom producers have made remarkable progress since the standard condom was introduced; with all sorts of decorative and physical elements being added to embellish the boring regular condom, it's hard to keep track of them all.
If you've just become sexually active and visited pharmacies to buy condoms, you've probably experienced the paralysing indecisiveness because you don't know which one to get! You walk in with the most rudimentary idea about the kind of condom you want and see a condom-filled shelf in front you with dozens of coloured boxes, each one too enticing to not try. Should you get the chocolate flavoured one? What about textured condoms?
It's normal to feel confused about what's best for you especially if the only knowledge you have about condoms is their contraceptive function or role in family planning, which is its main purpose, but if you're looking to try new things in bed, condoms can do wonders. Here is a definitive guide to the different types of condoms.
Different condom materials
Latex condoms are the old, reliable, go-to condom type for most guys and for good reason; they're about 98% effective at preventing unplanned pregnancy and the best way to guard oneself against STIs when used properly. For proper use, make sure you wear it correctly and restrict yourself to a water or silicone-based lube as oil-based lubes can damage the latex condom. In case you experience irritation with latex condoms, you may want to check for a latex allergy.
Polyurethane and polyisoprene condoms are both safe alternatives to latex and lambskin condoms. Both types are made of latex-free and thin rubber material which is a huge advantage as it cancels out the feeling of wearing a condom making it almost identical to bare sex. Polyurethane condoms are also better at conducting body heat which intensifies physical closeness. Even though they're thinner than latex condoms, they have very rare chances of breakage, just ensure you follow proper directions.
Lambskin condoms are one of the oldest forms of condoms. The name is a bit of a misnomer as they’re made of the intestinal skin of lambs, not the outer lambskin. Despite its off-putting origins, people prefer them because they heighten sensitivity, feel more natural than latex condoms and transmit body heat better. They can also be used with oil-based lubricants, which latex cannot. All these attributes make them an attractive choice but lambskin condoms do not offer any protection against STIs and STDs as the condom-skin is naturally porous, which lets the microscopic elements slip through the condom. They do, however, offer protection against pregnancy so if you are in a monogamous relationship where you both test negative for STDs then this is a viable option.
The classic types of condoms
Lubricated Condom: They're the plain, simple condoms to pick when in a dilemma, they make the job smoother since they come coated with a heavy dose of lube and cut down on the step of manually applying the lube. You can find any type of condom (latex, polyurethane, or lambskin) with added lube in it.
Ribbed Condom: A ribbed condom is designed to have little raised ridges around it, which are meant to amplify the pleasurable sensations during sex. The ridges on the condom, when touching the vagina wall, give the person a more pleasurable sensation. It has ridges on the inner part as well which makes it gratifying for individuals with a penis too. If you experience a lack of sensation with plain condoms, this might be a good pick for you. However, partners should make sure they are adequately lubed as the additional friction caused by the ribs can sometimes lead to genital chafing.
Dotted Condom: Similar to ribbed condoms, these condoms have several bumpy, circular dots all over them to create new sensations and make sex more pleasurable. The raised areas will usually stroke the recipient as the penis moves in and out, it's as easy as that. It's a great choice to consider if you're looking to escape monotony and routine in your sex life.
Warming Condom: When the sex is hot enough on its own, why would you put on a warming condom? Dr Robert Valenzuela, a urologist, tells the Promescent that warming condoms add a gentle snug sensation for both partners. These warm covers are laced with a lube containing chemicals that get activated by natural body moisture, heating up during sexual intercourse. Most heated condoms are made of latex so if you're allergic to it, you may not be able to find other warming condoms with different materials.
Condom types for people who dislike wearing them
Condoms, though, affordable and widely available aren’t all that popular. This is why guys often insist on having bare sex; their dislike towards condoms might lead them to view it as a barrier to pleasurable sex. Men might also complain about the tightness at the rolled-out end of the condom comparing the feeling to an overinflated blood pressure cuff.
You would be surprised to know, women aren’t that thrilled about condoms either. Mens Health reported on a survey of 3,120 women at the University of Wisconsin that revealed numerous women having identical complaints about condoms, specifically hating the way they feel, taste and smell. This also had a negative impact on their sex drive.
This is a matter of concern because, in the flow of sexual intercourse, partners may prioritize pleasure above safety leading to unsafe sex. If you’ve been in a similar predicament or had your partner coax you into forgoing the use of a condom, here are some condom choices that will help you.
Ultra-thin condom: They're the closest you'll come to having bare sex with safety. Ultra-thins are made out of both latex and polyurethane so you can have your pick and you don’t need to worry about breakage as they’re as safe as any other type of condom. Regardless, the main reason why condoms break is due to improper use, not its thickness, so you can put your fears away.
XL Condom: If you've had an unfortunate streak of experiencing ill-fitted condoms every time you have sex, you might want to consider going XL. The standard condom may have been too tight or too short, this can be a frustrating experience but shouldn't deter you from wearing condoms. XL condoms are designed for men with bigger than average size and girth. However, please don't buy them just to impress your partner as a loose condom will surely slip off during sex.
Female Condom or Internal condom: These condoms are worn inside unlike an external condom and even though they're commonly known as female condoms, people belonging to other genders and sex also use this. So, calling it a female condom is a misnomer. They're a viable choice if no other condoms work for you and if your partner is comfortable with wearing them as their placement is a bit tricky. Since they’re placed inside the vaginal or anal opening, you may need to google and practice to get it right.
But they are worth the initial discomfort as they ensure an uninterrupted transition from foreplay to intercourse as an internal condom can be inserted up to eight hours before sex. Usually, partners have to wait until the penis is erect to put on the condom but with internal condoms, you can skip that. It gets even better though, with an internal condom on the penis can be put into or near the vagina or anus before it's completely erect allowing for more body contact between partners.
In terms of safety, internal condoms have a success rate of 95% of protecting you from STDs and pregnancy, very close to standard condoms. However, make sure that you insert it correctly or the condom may fail to work.
Premature ejaculation preventing, decorative and sperm-killing condoms
These condoms are the misfits (not literally) that can’t be grouped in a broad category as they have very niche and specific functions. Some with functional purposes of delaying orgasms or the ability to kill sperms and yet others that solely serve a decorative purpose.
Delay condom: A very specific condom designed to help men that suffer from premature ejaculation (PE). Premature ejaculation can cut down sex time by a significant amount; according to a study, the average time that a man lasts for during sex is 5.4 minutes but men with PE may barely make it to a 2-minute mark, ending the pleasurable ride for their partner. Delay condoms help because contain benzocaine, a numbing agent which gets absorbed by the skin of the penis, numbing it to sensations in order to delay ejaculation. However, make sure it doesn't come in contact with your partner's vulva as it may reduce their sensations as well.
Spermicidal condom: These are condoms that hold sperm killing chemicals in them to prevent sperms from fertilising your partner's egg. On its own, spermicide is a gel or cream-based substance that you can apply on the penis to kill or paralyse sperms, they're available for purchase on their own but are usually packaged in condoms. If you decide to buy only the gel, beware that spermicide alone is not as effective as a condom at preventing pregnancy. So, it's best if you pair it with a condom. It also offers no protection against STIs and STDs and can lead to irritation because of the chemicals present in the spermicide.
Coloured Condom: In addition to the exciting condom textures that heighten your bodily sensations, you can add a visual element too to engage all your senses during intercourse. You can don a red and pink condom for Valentine’s and a red and white one for Christmas and when you’re tired of solid colours, switch to tattoo condoms. This brand of artsy condoms are meticulously designed akin to a tattoo and offer some really enthralling imagery.
Glow-in-the-dark condom: Do you prefer to get intimate in the dark but have a hard time locating your partner's penis? Or do you fancy watching your penis glow in the dark? If yes, you need to try a glow in the dark condom so you can marvel at your penis glowing and resembling a lightsaber from the Star Wars. Though undoubtedly mesmerizing, the science behind this is pretty simple - these condoms have a layer of pigmented phosphorous inside which appears illuminated in the dark.
Weirdest flavoured condoms
A commitment to safe sex means sporting a condom during oral sex too, especially during casual sex. However, condoms taste bad but do not fret as this is exactly why flavoured dental dams and condoms exist. Flavoured condoms have flavouring agents on the coating of the lubricant, which ultimately makes the condoms taste flavourful.
Akin to a modern ice-cream shop, there are endless flavours so you're guaranteed to find one of your likings. Don’t worry, no matter how peculiar your taste preferences may be, condoms producers usually already have that flavoured condom in the market. To understand the quirky ranges of flavoured condoms producers come up with, here are some of the weirdest condom flavours that exist:
Adrak flavoured condom: Can't decide between morning chai or morning sex? Why not have the best of both worlds? Because Man force offers Adrak flavoured condoms so you can experience the same ‘kadakness’ that awakens you during sex as well.
Achari flavoured condom: If you're that person who can't eat a meal without Achar, Man force has got your back. It might make for an awkward interaction with the pharmacist but it’s totally worth it if it spices up your taste buds and sex life.
Eggplant (Baingan) flavoured condom: Baingan ka Bharta, a desi delicacy is now available as a condom flavour. We can only imagine how much you’d have to love eggplant to want to taste it during your intimate hours as well but hey, nobody’s judging.
Chicken Tikka Masala flavoured condom: If you thought your partner was a snacc, with this condom, you can turn them into a whole meal. Another quirky rendition of Indian flavoured condoms by Man force that seems a bit excessive but you might as well try for the sake of experimentation or to solve bedroom boredom.
Kala Khatta flavoured condom: Durex offers this frozen sweet-sour beach snack as a condom flavour, a bitter-sweet nostalgic taste that is sure to bring comfort during sex. In comparison to all the other flavours, this seems the most ordinary but still quite different from the conventional fruity flavours.
Weed flavoured condom: If you and your partner love the earthy flavour of marijuana, you've found yourself the dopest condom flavour. However, it’s debatable if stoners and marijuana enthusiasts would love tasting weed in their mouth since they usually inhale it.
Whiskey flavoured condom: Unlike alcohol that might leave you with a ‘whiskey penis’, this whiskey flavoured condom will not ruin your erection. Rather, it will exude the good old taste of whiskey if you’re into the smoky, spicy and peaty flavour of it.
Coffee flavoured condom: If you’re someone that downs coffee in order to function, apart from it running through your veins, you probably have a strong attachment to its taste. It might sound bizarre to mix bedroom preferences with routine life preferences but give it a try to see if you enjoy the crisp bitter-sweet and acidic taste of coffee in the bedroom as well.
An exciting set of flavours indeed, however, if you’re a novice at experimenting with flavoured condoms, start on the first gear and choose simpler flavours instead of jumping the gun and buying an outlandish eggplant flavoured condom. With this comprehensive guide to condoms, you’ll be more informed about your choices rather than finding yourself paralysed in a sea of endless choices. With more clarity on the products, you’ll also experience a shift in perspective from confusion to excitement to try novel things which can translate positively in the bedroom. Moreover, with such an extensive pool of condoms to choose from, there is really no excuse for you to not use a condom during sex.