While we might all be curious about the best plunger or probiotic tampon or cold-sore remedy, it can be difficult to discuss these more personal items. That’s why we’re tackling Things We Don’t Talk About, a series in which we track down the best hygiene-, sex-, and bodily function–related things we all need but might be too embarrassed to ask about. Today, recommendations on the best condoms.
For many, condom shopping has long meant a surreptitious visit to the “family planning” aisle of the drug store, where you choose between standard-issue Trojans or standard-issue Lifestyles, and hope you don’t bump into a co-worker. Now, there’s not only online shopping, but also a burgeoning market of new condom brands meant to accommodate a wider range of bodies, preferences, and allergies. But with new options can come confusion, so we consulted a handful of sex therapists and educators, plus one porn actor and a sex worker, on the best condoms for any given situation. Each product here was nominated by at least two sources, and can be bought (discreetly — perhaps not on the shared family Amazon Prime account?) online.
The best-in-show condoms
Several of our experts brought up Skyn non-latex condoms. Porn actor Brett Rossi is, like many, allergic to latex, and says Skyn (made by Lifestyles) is best for managing reactions. It’s estimated (by the American Latex Allergy Association) that only around one percent of the general population has a real allergy, but many still report some kind of reaction. But beyond that, non-latex condoms also get better marks for pairing with lubricant and for allowing more sensation. Emily Morse, who hosts a sex-and-relationships podcast, attributes that to their heat transference. “The best part is that the polyisoprene material transfers heat really well, so they feel very natural,” she says. Nicole Tammelleo, a sex therapist, says that while polyisoprene was previously thought of as just a latex alternative, it’s actually stretchier than latex and many actually find it to provide more sensation. The $12 price tag here is for a 24-pack.
The fanciest condoms
Sir Richard’s Condoms might have a tries-too-hard silly name, but the brand is very well liked by experts. Certified sex therapist Kimberly Jackson says, “I highly recommend Sir Richard’s Condoms because the lubricant is free of chemical additives such as glycerin, parabens, and spermicides, which may result in vaginal irritation for some folks.” Adds sexuality educator Sarah Sloane, “Many store-brand condoms, like Trojans, have poorer latex quality or additions of stimulating ingredients to the lubricant; these qualities can cause irritation, UTIs, or pain for the person who is being penetrated, so I recommend condoms that use a higher-quality latex to help couples find choices that make both of them feel great.” Mia Davis, CEO and founder of modern sex-education site Tabú, adds that the brand also has a buy-one-give-one model, making Sir Richard’s the best conscientious condom, too. This is $10 for a dozen.
The best condoms for oral sex
Many of our experts agreed that Glyde ($5 for four) flavored condoms were the way to go here. Not only are they vegan, but “Glyde condoms are made with actual food extracts, not chemical fakery,” sex educator Dr. Carol Queen says. Tammelleo agrees, “You never want [regular] lubricated condoms for oral sex, as it will make the gag reflex kick in.” As for flavors, London-based sex worker Louisa Knight is a big fan of the wild-berry flavor, but also suggests people try out their sampler pack to find which they like best.
The best condoms for anal sex
With anal sex, make sure you’re never using any products (that goes for condoms and lube) with numbing qualities. The consensus here is, you need to be able to feel everything so that you can listen to your body. Knight votes for Durex Invisible (comes in a 32-pack here), the thinnest product the company makes, as these let you feel everything fully. Queen also adds that these condoms are super thin and extra lubricated (a plus with anal), making them perfect for this kind of activity.
The best condoms for premature ejaculation
For people who deal with premature ejaculation (and no longer want to) Philippe Côté-Léger, founder of Premature Ejaculation Help suggests condoms coated with a desensitizing benzocaine solution. The liquid solution is the same topical anesthetic found in over-the-counter products for sore throats and earaches, and reduces penile sensation by numbing the glans and foreskin of the penis. Both Trojan and Durex offer benzocaine delay condoms, he says, with just slightly different amounts of benzocaine (Trojan Extended Pleasure has a 4 percent solution; Durex Performax Intense and Durex Prolong have 5 percent). Knight says that with the Durex Prolong in particular, the numbing gel inside these condoms is great at helping a person last, but subtle enough to not eliminate all sensation.
The best condoms for quickies
First off, yes: A well-executed quickie calls for a different condom than regular at-home take-your-time sex. Think of this as the counterpart to the best condoms for premature ejaculators. “You want a thin and comfy condom that lets you get down to it,” Queen says. “A thick condom might slow you down, which is good in some cases, maybe, but not for quickies. A partner’s pleasure is important if you’re ramping up the action quickly.” For this, she and Knight recommend the Vanish Hyperthins from One, a newer company with a goal of making a broader spectrum of kinds of condoms. You’ll be able to feel everything, they say, and there’s just the right amount of lube.
The best condoms for a perfect fit
Finding the right condom size makes them more comfortable, but also safer. “Wearing the wrong size can make accidents more likely — when a condom is too large, it’s more likely to come off during sex,” Knight says. Because of this, people who rely solely on condoms may want to look into a custom-fit condom from myOne Perfect Fit. Instead of using uniform small, medium, and large sizes, myONE factors in differing widths at each size. Users take their own measurements, enter them online, and get one of 60 tailored sizes. Mia Davis from Tabú calls myONE the Goldilocks of condoms.
The best condoms for a snug fit
Davis and Sloane agree that Iron Grip is the best choice here. Davis says that the snugger fit means you can focus more on your pleasure without worrying about readjusting, and Sloane adds that these are also super thin, so you don’t have to sacrifice sensation for safety. And if you need any more convincing: These were also famously endorsed here on the Strategist by HQ host Scott Rogowsky, who said using them is like “going from JNCOs to skinny jeans.”
The best condoms for extra sensitivity
The Pleasure Plus condom sports a smaller pouch near the tip, and the function is twofold: Sloane explains that the underside of the penis responds to friction better than pressure, so a condom that is more bulbous offers more opportunities for these sensations than traditional tighter-head condoms. Queen concurs and says that with big-headed condoms, the penile head is stroked by the condom, and enhanced sensation is the result. It’s also reportedly more comfortable for uncircumcised wearers, as the pouch allows the foreskin to move during sex, while still offering protection. Internal ribs add yet another layer of excitement, and as Davis points out, the added latex of the ribbed pouch can also rub against skin for increased clitoral stimulation.
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