This first statement I am about to say is even perplexing to me… but here goes! Condoms get a bad rap. There that's it. It is out there. Despite being around since sliced bread (well, modern condoms were invented in the 1800s) and being a pretty reliable and safe way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, their use has been on the decline since roughly 2015. Who would've thunk it? But I am here to tell you what is happening and why we have to talk about this.
Doesn't take a Ph.D. to know that a declining trend in condom usage isn’t something we should be excited about. CDC data suggest that STI rates hit an all-time high in 2019 for the sixth consecutive year in a row.
One of the reasons people may not be that into condoms is that they may be using the wrong type and/or size. Yes, fit matters! When was a one-size-fits-all approach ever a good idea for anything? If a condom is too small, it’s more likely to break. On the other hand, if it’s too large, there could be spillage or it may simply fall off.
Time to potentially hurt feelings or maybe play with fragile egos. Only about 50% of people with penises should be wearing a medium or standard-fit condom. Another 30% to 35% require a snugger, a more secure fit, and the remaining 10% to 15% may need a larger size or Magnum condom. Sorry penis owners….everyone just isn't a magnum and that should be ok. The goal should be a pleasure, STD prevention, and contraceptives, not showing the girl at the checkout you purchased the big size. And no, condom size is not related to length, so put away your ruler or measuring tape. Instead, grab an empty toilet paper roll and measure for girth (if it fits nicely in there, you’re likely a standard fit; too tight and you should go larger too much space and you should go smaller).
People probably aren’t talking enough about condoms
A stigma against buying the correct size condom may be particularly pervasive in teenage boys who simply don’t know any better.
To be blunt, we just aren't using sex education properly or providing the proper environments for youth to know proper use or fit. I mean truly do you even remember sex ed in school besides hearing about babies, a quick overview of STIs, and a couple of one-liners about prevention? And no one wants to be that one teacher who tries to go into more details and gets in trouble for going off script. Sex education isn’t mandatory across the United States, with only 38 states teaching both sex education and HIV prevention. However, can you imagine a conversation in the classroom about condom sizes and how to properly use them? I know you just chuckled. For it truly would go all bad.
Additionally, condom use has fallen out of the conversation. I must admit even I have shifted my language to focus on consent and sexual assault prevention. Seems time, opportunity, and chance to continue to dive into and understand condom use is limited.
A 2021 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health of 2,291 college students found that people were more comfortable talking with partners about consent than condom use or STI prevention. I sat in both of my daughters' freshman college orientations and the only things that were spoken about were consent, assault, mental health services, and security. I never heard about condoms the entire week I was there with each of them.
Finding the right condom can equal better sex
I say often pleasure is the point. One perk of wearing a properly fitting condom is that it’s also going to feel better, likely for both partners. Here is the irony….I hear over and over that condoms reduce pleasure for partners. While this has the potential to be true, there are ways to fix this!
First, we learned that we have to get the right fit. And next is one of my favorite words…. Lube! Lubrication is your best friend. This is how you remove the condom feeling and how you take pleasure up to ten more notches. And here is a secret. Lubricated condoms make the condom more effective from a safety perspective.
And I mean a shameless plug to add some sex toys or try a new kink with your condom definitely will help with the pleasure!
Little More Added benefits and the Brighter side
Even though there’s less consistency in condom use today than there was 10 years ago, 9 out of 10 sexually active teenagers have used a condom at some point. Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly and don't require prescriptions and are very inexpensive. Condoms can also be purchased online where you can focus on proper fit and pleasure, versus what someone may say about you in the checkout line. They also come in cool flavors and some even glow in the dark. How cool is that! Now go buy some and get to having pleasurable sex! You’re Welcome!