CONDOMS 

Questions & Answers

Below are some answers to questions that many men often have regarding the selection and use of condoms.

  • Q: How do I choose which type of condom to buy?​​

    • A:  Oftentimes it’s trial and error.  Factors that may affect your decision may include personal preference such as wanting to slow things down, wanting to have a “natural” feel, or allergies to latex (itching after wearing a condom).  Many men hate standing at the condom section looking at all their options while women are picking up feminine products two feet away.  But reviewing your options and reading the back of packages to see what differences are available can help you make a selection.  Taking 5-10 minutes in the store can prevent weeks of frustration.  In addition, it may be worth purchasing a variety pack of condoms which contains three or more types of condoms to see which best suits you.

 

  • Q: What if I itch when wearing or after wearing a condom?

    • A: You may be allergic to latex or lubricant.  Many people have latex allergies that cause skin redness and itching.  Changing to a non-latex condom like polyurethane or polyisoprene may help.  Condoms made of natural materials (sheep intestines) are also available but they do not protect against STDs.  However, some men find that by simply washing the penis after wearing a condom can eliminate any skin reactions and itching from the lubricant.  Do not apply anti-itch medication to the penis or genitals without first talking to your healthcare provider (in most cases, you shouldn’t apply anti-itch medication to the penis).

 

  • Q: How to put on a condom so it works the way it’s supposed to?

    • A: First of all, boxes of condoms come with detailed instructions on the inside of the packaging.  Following those instructions is vital.  However, we will address some of the main points here.  Condoms come rolled up.  It is important that when placing a condom on the penis that it be placed right side up (to allow the condom to roll down the sides of the penis).  If a condom is placed on the penis upside down it cannot roll.  In addition, because it comes in contact with the penis, it should be discarded and replaced with a new condom. 

    • The first step is to unroll the condom an inch or so before putting it on.  This serves two purposes – first, so that you know which way the condom unrolls and second, to create space for ejaculated semen to collect.  This inch or so of material should be pinched to get rid of air and left to hang off the tip of the penis.  Placing the tip of the condom directly on the tip of the penis without allowing for this small head space can force more semen down the sides of the condom during ejaculation, but more importantly, it can restrict or compress the glans thus reducing sexual stimulation during intercourse. 

    • The condom (again starting about an inch down) should be placed on the glans then rolled down the shaft of the penis all the way down to the base of the penis.  Hair on the base of the penis often gets trapped in the condom and fixing any hairs that are being tugged is quite common.  If the condom is removed at any point it should be thrown away and replaced.  Don’t reuse a condom even if it is simply taken off to “resituate” it. 

 

  • Q: What to do if condoms reduce sexual sensations?

    • A: This is a common complaint with many men.  Many condoms are designed to mute sexual pleasure to allow intercourse to last longer.  This is not always what some men want as it can prevent sexual stimulation and pleasure (or even make orgasm and ejaculation impossible).  Using condoms that are thinner or textured (ribbed or studded) can provide stimulation.  Many condoms come in thin or “ultra-thin” versions to prevent this blunted effect.  Ribbed condoms will often have rows of raised ridges about an inch down from the tip of the condom.  Dotted or studded condoms have raised dots in the same area.  This ribbing and dotting is designed to lie on top of the glans of the penis as well as the neck and upper shaft of the penis.  These are the areas where the dorsal and frenular nerves that trigger sexual stimulation are located.  Placing a ribbed condom on incorrectly (not leaving the inch or so of headspace) can move this ribbing more onto the mid and lower shaft of the penis which often doesn’t assist much in sexual stimulation.  Sometimes studded condoms are often studded the entire length of the condom making placement less of a concern.  Once again, personal preference is the most important factor here.

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  • Q: What to do if condoms don’t allow for normal “movement” and “feeling”?

    • A: This is also a common complaint in men.  Movement can be restricted within a condom for a few reasons.  The first is lack of lubrication.  Although condoms are lubricated inside as well as out, some men who don’t produce much pre-ejaculate, or they may have already released pre-ejaculate prior to putting the condom on.  This can reduce the amount of lubricant inside a condom preventing “sliding” which leads to stimulation.  Lubricating the penis with a non-oil based lubricant prior to putting the condom on can often improve sensation.  The second reason may be that some men require more friction for stimulation.  Dotted and ribbed condoms can help improve stimulation.  Finally, some condoms are designed to be anatomical (see previous image), where they are tight at the base of the penis, but they widen out and create a larger pocket on the upper portion of the condom to allow the glans and upper shaft to move freely. 

 

  • Q: What if a condom feels “too tight”?

    • A: Then it probably is.  Although the size of an erect penis doesn’t vary that much from one man to the next, some men who are slightly above average in penis size may feel like the condom fits to tightly.  In fact, many men that are “average” or even “below average” in size still complain about condoms being “too tight”.  Condoms are often designed to be tight to prevent them from slipping off during intercourse and prevent sperm from releasing through the base.  Larger sized condoms are available and can be an option for men that are either larger or don’t like the super tight feel.  In addition, some men only feel that condoms are tight on the upper portions of the penis – in these cases condoms that are wider (“anatomical fit”) at the top may be a better fit.  However, some men feel the tightness and constriction at the base of the penis where the roll at the end of the condom sits.  Allowing more condom to drape off the tip of the penis or rolling the condom out further to produce a smaller “ring” of material at the bottom may help reduce this restriction.  Also, wearing a condom for a long period of time can also increase feelings of constriction. 

 

  • Q: How soon after ejaculation should a condom be removed?

    • A: Almost immediately afterwards.  After ejaculation, an erection subsides, making semen more likely to leak out of the condom near the base of the penis.  Most condom packages suggest men immediately remove the penis from the vagina after ejaculation when wearing a condom.

 

  • Q: What if a condom breaks?

    • A: Then pregnancy or transmission of an STD may occur.  Seek the advice of a medical professional if an STD is suspected.

  • Q:  How should I dispose of a condom? 

    • A: Typically avoiding rolling the condom back off the penis.  Simply grabbing the base of the condom and pulling the entire condom off the penis is preferred, but obviously the penis needs to be pointing towards the floor or bed so that gravity holds the semen in the tip of the condom.  Tying and knot in the base of the condom to trap semen in the tip will also prevent leakage.  When throwing a condom away, don’t flush it in the toilet as it can clog pipes and sewers.  It should be thrown in the trash.

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Images on this page from top to bottom include:

  1. Deborah Asamoah/Shutterstock.com

  2. GreatKit/Shutterstock.com