Condom Buyer’s Guide

Because Your Shlong Is All Wrong If It Ain’t Got Nothin’ On.

Condoms are a life-saving invention but they have a controversial reputation. I, for one, think they’re amazing, but not everybody shares that opinion with me. Either way, once you start using condoms it’s important to become picky about the ones you choose. Today’s condom industry is massive, and the average shopper can become lost in a hurry. This buyer’s guide is designed to help you get a legit education on safe sex using condoms – all while maintaining most of your dignity. My hope is that, by the end of this, you’re able to pick out the perfect condom and avoid being crushed by disappointment.

What Is a Condom?

Condoms are relatively commonplace in modern-day society, so most people know what they are. However, that’s not the way it’s always been. Once upon a time, condoms were considered a sign of sexual promiscuity. People were embarrassed to purchase them at the store, folks refused to talk about them openly, and learning anything about the variety available was virtually impossible for anyone in the mainstream. Today, condoms are viewed as a safe and satisfying alternative to bare-backing it, with a less taboo reputation and more options than ever before. In fact, condoms are now one of the most recognizable things mentioned in contemporary “Sex Ed” classes in high schools.

But for those of you who skipped school, condoms are defined as sheath-shaped barrier devices that are worn on the shaft of the penis during sexual intercourse and/or masturbation for the purposes of reducing the probability of contracting sexually transmitted infections, experiencing allergic reactions, and/or causing pregnancy. There are both male and female condoms available in the developed world, but this buyer’s guide will focus primarily on male condoms, or “prophylactics” as they’re called in some circles. However you spell it, condom technology has come quite a long way since the first models were created and we’re all very thankful for that.

Before the invention of the oral contraceptive pill in 1957, the most popular form of birth control in the Western world was the good ole condom. Prior to the 19th century, though, people used things like chemically-treated linens and animal skins to protect their throbbing cocks from harm. The oldest documented barrier device dates all the way back to 1642 and it’s made out of indiscriminate animal membranes, but speculators assume it’s not the world’s first condom because of it’s surprisingly durable and ergonomic design. By the second half of the 20th century, high-end, skin-safe prophylactics were available in every drug store for a couple bucks, having been increased on the market in an effort to fight the AIDS pandemic and make safe sex cool again.

Unfortunately, even today’s best condoms have gotten a bad reputation in today’s society because of their innate flaws – one of which is their knack for making the sensations of sex and masturbation less pleasurable for the wearer. However, most contemporary condom manufacturers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to develop better products that don’t reduce stimulation as much. There are even some condoms that feature external and/or internal texturizing, built-in lubrication, delicious flavoring and other features that you and your partner can play with. On top of that, condoms now come in 60 different sizes, so the “It broke” excuse doesn’t work anymore.

Why a Condom Though?

So, if condoms make sex less enjoyable for the wearer and only improve the receiver’s sensations when the device has a ton of bonus features, why in the world would anyone ever use one? Aside from protecting a sexually active couple from contracting or spreading STIs and making unplanned babies, these overrated boner barriers seem worthless at best. However, things aren’t exactly what they seem, at least to the trained eye.

Using a well-made condom provides a wide variety of advantages, and they don’t all center on sex with a dirty or fertile partner either. The top 7 most commonly experienced benefits of prophylactics, in whatever form they take, are as follows:

  • Condoms Allow You to Have Sex More Freely 

With a good condom on your junk, sex doesn’t require prior planning, post-orgasm clinical visits or preventative maintenance from a doctor in the form of prescription medication or stinky topical ointments. In other words, well-made penile barrier devices make it easier to have sex the way you want to without forcing you to deal with the consequences. Now that’s the kind of kinky irresponsibility I’m talking about.

  • Condoms Are Cheaper and More Readily Available Than the Alternative 

What’s the alternative to spending money on condoms? Forking over a wad of cash for unnecessary medical treatments, bags of diapers and daycare, that’s what. The average condom costs less than a dollar store pregnancy test and can be found in almost any commercial location in the developed world – gas stations, bus stops, restaurants, bars, doctor’s offices, supermarkets, etc. No longer do we have to slay an animal for its membrane to protect our own. Isn’t progress a wonderful thing?

  • Condoms Are Travel-Friendly 

Unlike shamelessly labeled prescription medication and bulky diaper bags, condoms are discreet, easy to travel with, and don’t cause as much embarrassment at Customs. In fact, you’ll like be touted as a sexual god or goddess with the right prophylactics in your carry-on. Whether male or female, condoms can come with you in more ways than one. Fit a handful of them in the same space it takes to fit a traditional diaphragm, a standard pack of birth control pills, or a small tube of spermicidal lubricant.

  • Condoms Make Sex Cleaner 

Enjoying sex and masturbation is one thing, but cleaning up after yourself is another. Did you know that there’s an entire group of people who dislike sexual intercourse and ejaculation simply because it’s a messy pastime? Interestingly, the relatively common psychological conditions known as “Genophobia” and “Automysophobia” are generally linked together and usually exacerbated during sex and/or masturbation without a barrier device (or professional clean-up crew). But even those without a psychological aversion to messy sex can benefit from the easy clean-up process after a good condom is used – take it off, throw it away and move on to have sex another day.

  • Condoms Help You Enjoy a Wider Range of Sex Toys 

Today’s sex toys are made from a wide variety of materials and not all of them are hypoallergenic or compatible with every skin type. Unfortunately, this often includes the market’s best products – vibrators, dildos, cock rings and butt plugs made with materials that contain potential triggers and irritants. By wrapping a skin-safe condom around the toy before using it, you can enjoy all the device has to offer without experiencing any dangerous or uncomfortable side effects.

  • Condoms Cause Minimal Side Effects (If Any) 

Speaking of side effects, the right condom will never put your genitals in harm’s way. Regardless of your intentions, properly made and worn condoms are designed to be a protective barrier against anything that could reduce your health. Unless the condom you’re wearing is made out of a material not compatible with your skin, there’s really nothing to worry about. I wish I could say the same thing about sex and/or masturbation without one.

  • Condoms Can Decrease Premature Ejaculation 

Although one of the biggest complaints with condoms is that they decrease the pleasure sensations for the users, there’s actually a perk to that. Those who deal with premature ejaculation can benefit from wearing a desensitizing condom because it can help prolong intercourse and/or masturbation, thereby extending each session and increasing sexual stamina over time. And many sexual health experts say that training with a good condom can help you become more familiar with your body as well.

Obviously, high-quality condoms have a secure place in our society and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. The variety of prophylactics now available is an impressive testament to our collective understanding of the human body and its response to sexuality. However, you’ll never benefit if you don’t know how to select the ideal condom for yourself.

The Top 5 Ways to Tell If Those Condoms Are Worth It or Not

Step one to finding the perfect condom involves getting to know yourself and your partner a little better. Answer the following questions before proceeding:

  1. What is my skin type?
    • Do I or my partner have any allergies or sensitives to certain materials, such as latex or lamb skin? 
  2. What is my favorite kind of lube? 
    • Am I able to use several different types of personal lubrication (water-based, oil-based, silicone-based)? 
    • Is my favorite lube compatible with the condoms I’m wanting to use? 
  3. How/When do I plan to use my condoms? 
    • Will I use my condoms during sex, masturbation or both? 
    • Am I using condoms for vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex or all of the above? 
  4. How do I intend to store or pack my condoms for travel? 
    • Do I have ample space in a cool, dry place for properly storing my condoms? 
  5. What is my sex life like, realistically? 
    • How often will I be using the condoms I want to buy? 
    • Will I likely use them before their expiration date?
    • How does my partner feel about using these particular condoms? 

Becoming more familiar with yourself and your lover is the hardest part. Picking out the perfect condom isn’t difficult and it may not seem like that big of a deal, especially considering the fact that you can walk into most gas station bathrooms and buy one for $0.75 from a wall-mounted vending machine. But the randomness of the average vending machine selection can be frightening, if not downright disappointing. That’s why being a tad more discerning about your condoms is so important. The convenience is finally there, but the opportunity to experience every advantage is usually not unless you’re a savvy shopper.

Here are the top 5 things you need to look at or consider when choosing your first (or next) condom:

  • The Size 

Today’s condoms come in a wide variety of sizes, from compact and comfortable to large and in charge. As mentioned earlier, the industry now boasts 60 different condom sizes and that number might climb even higher in the coming years. There’s no excuse for slippage or cut-off circulation when you’ve got choices like that. Go for a condom that fits snugly around the base and shaft of your penis without causing discomfort. Opt for a tighter model if you’re looking for help with premature ejaculation and/or erectile dysfunction, since some luxury-grade condoms can double as a makeshift, temporary cock ring.

  • The Texture 

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of picking out a good condom is exploring the various textures made available to the average shopper. No longer considered a novelty, textured condoms increase pleasure for the receiver to make the wearer’s sexual performance more satisfying. Some condoms even feature textures on the inside to stimulate the wearer’s penis. Either way, the texture plays a huge role in the overall experience. Choose a texture that’s pleasurable based on the person/people you’re having sex with, the sex toy you’re using for masturbation and the criteria

  • The Material 

Today’s best condoms are made from generally skin-safe materials that can be used by everybody under a wide variety of circumstances and with numerous types of sex toys. However, there’s always an exception to the rule. Not only are some people allergic or sensitive to certain materials but not all sex toys and lubes are compatible with all condom materials. Furthermore, the material of the condom you choose plays a part in how many features it has/can have. Choose wisely by trying to find one that’s highly versatile and safe for all body types/sex toys involved. Common condom materials generally include the following:

      • Latex – As one of the most popular condom materials on the modern market, latex may cause an allergic reaction in some users but it can stretch up to 800-times its original size and makes the perfect companion for hot, friction-full sex and/or masturbation.
      • Lambskin – Commonly used as an alternative to latex, lambskin condoms are made from a layer of intestinal membrane just like the condoms of the good ole days. And although they’re slim, thin, cozy and even biodegradable, they don’t protect against STIs whatsoever.
      • Silicone – Thicker and stronger than latex or lambskin, silicone condoms seldom break and don’t buffer pleasure as much as you’d expect since many of them feature textures on the inside. The downfall? Silicone isn’t compatible with water-based or oil-based lubes.
      • Polyurethane – More popular as a latex alternative than lambskin or silicone, polyurethane condoms are made out of elastic plastic and thus conduct heat better and encourage more contact between lovers. The only con is that they’re super thin and tend to break quite easily.
      • Polyisoprene –  Slightly cheaper and surprisingly similar to the polyurethane models, polyisoprene condoms behave like latex without all the allergy-causing proteins and subsequent rashes. Softer, more elastic and more natural feeling than plastic, this chemically-similar material is the second most sought-after condom option on the market.
      • Nitrile – Relatively new and unheard of, nitrile condoms are made out of a specialty form of rubber that’s looks and feels like just silky-smooth latex while being hypoallergenic and oil-resistant. You can’t always use these condoms for internal use, though, so be careful.

You might also find condom materials that feature special chemicals for killing sperm, the HIV virus and other potentially dangerous sexually transmitted infections. Keep in mind, though, that those options have been known to cause surface irritation for some users, especially those with extremely sensitive skin. Use those options with caution, or combine a standard condom of your choice with an external, topical product that does the same thing without causing a reaction.

  • The Shape 

Surprisingly, condoms also feature various shapes regardless of the fact that they’re all made to fit snugly over the average human penis. Depending on what you plan to do with yours (and who intends to wear it), the shape will determine how comfortable and effective the device is. The 5 most common condom shapes include the following:

      • Standard/Straight-Shafted
      • Flared
      • Form-Fitting
      • Specialty Shape
      • Ribbed/Stuffed (Internally Textured)

Talk with your partner and consider your own sexual desires to select a condom shape that works best for you. Remember that certain brands focus primarily on condom manufacturing, so they tend to offer an extremely large variety of shapes, sizes, textures and materials. And while many sex toy companies offer compatible condoms on a limited basis, it’s probably better to buy your supply from a company that specializes in condom manufacturing so you’re always privy to the best selection and special discounts.

  • The Brand 

Speaking of brand affiliation, keep in mind that not all legitimate condom manufacturers are well-known. Furthermore, a brand’s market value should have more to do with its production standards and product quality than its ability to sway the industry in one way or another with crafty advertising. Truly remarkable products speak for themselves, so do your best to ignore clever marketing schemes and select a compatible condom regardless of what the crowd says.

The Three Kings: My Favorite Condoms

Today’s market has about a million different options in terms of condom variety, but you don’t have to get lost in the sea because you have no clue where to start looking. Pinpointing the perfect condom takes more than a few helpful hints. It also requires a couple suggestions and I’ve got just what the doctor ordered. Here are what I think are the top 3 condoms available right now.

BEST OVERALL: One Pleasure Plus Condoms

Ideal for couples and solo masturbators alike, this dual-sided condom offers pleasure to both the wearer and the receiver with a scientifically-developed design that actually increases stimulation. Voted 8 to 1 as the most pleasurable condom on the market, the One Pleasure Plus has been granted worldwide patents for its innovative pouch that moves gently back and forth with every thrust. With fine, internal ribbing and external texturing that tickles the senses, this amazing option has the power to turn everyday condom haters into number one fans.

Pro: It’s pre-lubricated for your convenience and it’s elastic enough to fit most penis sizes.

Con: This is one of the most expensive prophylactics on the market, but generally worth every penny.

BEST FOR HIS PLEASURE: Lifestyles SKYN Condoms

Shaped with the average penis in mind and carefully crafted out of non-latex, skin-safe polyisoprene (see material description above for more information), the Lifestyles SKYN condoms are straight with a convenient reservoir end but that’s not all. They’re also lubricated with a long-lasting personal lube that’s hypoallergenic and compatible with most sex toys. Ideal for people who enjoy the sensations of latex but have an annoying sensitivity, the brand’s patented SKYNFEEL material leaves you wondering if you’re wearing anything at all.

Pro: The combination of thin, skin-safe materials and the ultra-smooth lubrication makes this condom a perfect fit for men who don’t enjoy using condoms in the first place.

Con: There’s not a lot to offer the receiver aside from a relative lack of presence.

BEST FOR HER PLEASURE: Trojan Her Pleasure Ecstasy Condoms

These thin yet durable condoms are hailed as the most comfortable male prophylactic on the market. “Like you’re not wearing anything,” says the manufacturer – the well-known Trojan brand which brought us the corny “Trojan Man” and these tapered-based condoms too. Shaped for a more secure fit, the Her Pleasure Ecstasy condoms are textured along the base and head for better female stimulation while also being adequately slathered with a silicone-based lube for his enjoyment.

Pro: It’s pre-lubricated for your convenience, plus it protects against STIs and pregnancy.
Con: This potential allergy-triggering latex option is rounded but has no reservoir tip to catch a large ejaculate.

The End Game

Being in the market for a condom seems trivial, but it’s actually one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a responsible, sexually active adult. And while there’s no rule that says you have to wear one (especially if you’re in a committed long-term relationship), having “a few good men” in your bedside drawer never hurt anybody. The point is not always to protect yourself from STIs and unplanned family expansions. Sometimes, it’s just about increase the pleasure you experience during sex and/or masturbation. As long as you and your partner have a safe and satisfying sexual experience (hopefully more than once), that’s all that matters. If it takes a tapered polyurethane condom with internal and external texturing plus a thick coat of skin-safe lube, then so be it. Pick your condoms with extreme prejudice. Your crotch and love life will thank you later.