Below is my most recent Sexpert Advice post at the wonderful comprehensive sexuality ed website for teens and young adults, Scarleteen.
Why are male condoms so big? I understand that they’re designed and fitted for adult men, but it seems like they’re better suited for covering an overripe banana. Do they sell smaller-sized and/or better-fitting condoms for guys?
I’m so glad that you wrote in with this question!
I remember Enrique Iglesias made news back in 2007 when he voiced his concerns with condoms that fit too loosely, and LifeStyles immediately responded with an endorsement deal and the promise that they would have a condom in his size. It’s a question that many guys and their partners are wondering, yet are often too nervous to ask. The quick answer to your question is that there certainly are condoms in different sizes, including condoms that are a tighter, more fitted design and others that are even larger than average condoms.
Your question implies a very important fact: condom fit is important in many ways. There has been quite a bit in the news recently about the importance of condom size, including some research that suggests that it may be a reason why some men prefer not to wear them. A condom that is too tight will be uncomfortable and a condom that is too large will be baggy and difficult to keep on. Either way, it’s not attractive, nor does it feel terribly secure. Thank goodness condom companies have wised up and begun to offer a wide range of sizes and shapes so you and your partner can find products that fit just right.
The average penis is a bit under 6 inches long when erect. In fact, the range of 5 – 7 inches is considered average, according to Go Ask Alice (a reputable website run by Columbia University’s student health services). Being on either side of that number is just fine. Statistically speaking, many people will be either smaller or larger than those average numbers and that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your penis. Condoms are made very long, and generally speaking folks shouldn’t expect to be able to roll a condom all the way down. In order to put on a condom correctly, remove it carefully from the package and add a drop of lube inside the tip so that you will be able to feel it on your penis. Then pinch the air out of the lubricated tip by holding it between your thumb and forefinger. Keep your fingers there while you roll the rest of the condom down to the base of the penis. That way you have some extra condom (with a drop of lube in it, but no air) at the tip and some rolled-up condom left at the base. Some condoms are made to be baggy at the tip or along the length because they come in any of a wide assortment of undulating shapes. This extra latex is designed to provide the wearer with added comfort and stimulation as the bagginess moves and grooves against your penis during sex. That’s the kind of bagginess that is meant to be there. If your condom doesn’t say anything about a special, stimulating shape, then it probably isn’t supposed to be baggy and is a sign that you could use a more tailored fit. A condom should never be painful or uncomfortable to wear. If this is the case, and you have left room at the tip, then is probably too tight and you should try a wider size.
What about width? Those statistics are more difficult to find, but they’re also what matters most to condom size and fit. Most people who complain to me about the fit of their condom are unsatisfied with how tight or lose it is around the penis, not with the length of the condom. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for condom sizing by length or width. One company’s large may be another’s average! Many companies do make their measurements available online, though. Let’s talk a little more about that.
There are certain key words that you can look for that are special code for a condom that is either smaller or larger than average. Condoms that are more fitted and tighter may have words on their packaging such as: contoured, close fit, snug, snugger fit and even iron grip. Wider condoms may include words such as: extra large, XL, max, and ultra. Beyond Seven brand condoms tend to be best for those who are seeking a long yet slim fit. Smaller and larger condoms are made by major companies, but their availability will also depend on the selection at your local store. Check out a few different stores to see what you can find! I’ve rarely seen free condoms in assorted sizes at clinics, unfortunately, but I sometimes find free samples available on the manufacturers’ websites.
Try buying small packages of several types of condoms that look promising, then doing a little research to see which fit you best. I’ve also included a link to a size chart for some brands of condoms. While you specifically requested information on condoms for guys, I also want to point out that you could consider using the female condom if your partner has a vagina. Because the female condom fits inside her loosely, your size makes no difference. Just be sure to use lots of extra lube.
Thanks again for bringing up this important question. I’ve included a few links, below, to give you more information about finding and using your perfect condom. Best of luck, have fun, and many thanks for being a safe and caring partner.
- Go Ask Alice – Condom Sizes
- Condom Size Chart from About.com
- Condom Basics: A User’s Manual
- Your Map to the Condom Aisle
- What’s THE BEST Condom?
- A Safer Sex How-To
- Male Reproductive Choices