- A properly fitting condom should cover the entire length of the penis, leaving a 1/2 inch of room at the top, and be snug, but not tight.
- To find the right condom fit, measure your penis length and girth, and compare it to condom sizing charts.
- Condom fit is important because it increases comfort, reduces the risk of pregnancy, and prevents the spread of STIs.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
When you and your partner(s) are in the mood to have sex, it’s easy to grab any condom available. However, there are various types of condoms and choosing the right one for you and your body depends on multiple factors.
Here’s what you need to know about how an external condom should fit â€” from choosing the correct size to the best material.
Why condom fit is important
Not all condoms can be used on any penis, and finding the right fit is important for comfort and proper protection.
If you use a poor-fitting condom, it can result in:
- Decreased sensation
- Slipping off
- Spread of STIs
Additionally, “using a poor-fitting condom increases the likelihood of removing it and continuing sex without it,” says Sarah Melancon, PhD, a sociologist and clinical sexologist.
According to Melancon and Alex Shteynshlyuger, MD, director of urology at New York Urology Specialists, signs a condom isn’t fitting correctly include:
- It’s wobbling around.
- It can easily move up and down the penis.
- The rim of the condom is squeezing the penis such that it is bulging on either side.
- There is less than a half-inch of space at the top left to collect semen.
- Part of the penis is still showing after you have unrolled the condom.
Taking your measurements
While every condom will fit a range of people, getting the right fit and comfort requires knowing your penis measurements.
Because condoms tend to stretch, the regular size should fit most penises as long as they’re fully erect, says Shteynshlyuger. However, some people may find they get more enjoyment when wearing a slimmer or wider option.
When determining the size of your penis for condom fit, it’s important to look at length and width. “Measure the penis while erect, both lengthâ€”from base to tipâ€”and circumferenceâ€”around the widest part,” says Melancon. “Circumference can be measured using a flexible measuring tape, like those used in sewing, or a strip of paper that you can then hold against a ruler.”
Most major condom brands have size charts online to see which options are the best fit for you.
Finding the right condom size
While there is a standard range for condom sizes, each brand will vary slightly in the measurements of their snug, standard, and large options. After measuring yourself, you will have a general idea of which category to look for and can compare brands’ options in that size for the best fit for your penis.
“Choose a size that is as close as possible to your penis size,” says Melancon. “Buy individual condoms of several different sizes and brands to test which fits best.”
These are the common width measurement guides for condoms:
- Standard condom is between 2.0 and 2.2 inches
- Snug condom is between 1.92 and 2.08 inches
- Large condom is between 2.2 and 2.5 inches
A condom should cover the entirety of the penis while leaving a little extra room at the top to hold any ejaculation. These are the common length measurement guides for condoms:
- Standard condom is 7.08 and 7.9 inches
- Snug condom is between 6.7 and 7.08 inches
- Large condom is between 7.9 and 10 inches
How to properly put on a condom
Once you’ve found the right condom, the next step is properly putting it on. “Condoms should be put on when the penis is fully erect, and the foreskin is retracted,” says Shteynshlyuger.
Here’s how to properly put on a condom:
- Check the expiration date.
- Make sure there is air in the package
- Slide the condom to one side as you pull the material to open the package. Do not use your teeth or scissors to open the package.
- Once opening a new condom â€” never reuse one â€” place it on the tip of your fully erect penis.
- Lightly hold either the protruding tip or a half-inch of the condom’s top to create space for any ejaculation.
- Then gently roll the condom down the entirety of the penis to its base.
If a condom does not roll down easily, the condom may be inside out. In that case, remove the condom and start fresh with a new one to avoid any potential tearing and exposure of fluid from the head of the penis to the inside of another person’s body. Always check if it is inside out before attempting to put it on. To easily check, sit the condom upright â€” it’s rim should be on the outside.
Choosing the right condom material
Comfort and allergies are factors to consider when choosing condom material:
- Latex is a form of rubber used to create condoms since the 1930s. They have a shelf life of up to five years and can prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV. Worldwide, about 4.3% of people are allergic to latex, meaning they or their sexual partner are unable to use this type of condom.
- Polyurethane is a type of plastic. These condoms also have a shelf life of up to five years, but are thinner than latex, allowing for more sensitivity, but increase the risk of slipping or ripping. They are also often stiffer and less flexible.
- Polyisoprene is a non-latex form of rubber that has grown in popularity as a material for condoms. They are very thin, comfortable, considered stretchier than latex, and effective against STIs. However, they can be pricier.
- Lambskin condoms are made from sheep’s intestines and are another option for people allergic to latex. While they can prevent pregnancy, they are ineffective in stopping STIs’ transmission.
“In general, studies show no dramatic difference in terms of breakage and slippage between latex and polyurethane condoms, but it appears that latex condoms have a slight edge with less risk of breakage or unwanted pregnancy,” says Shteynshlyuger.
Latex and polyurethane condoms are the most effective options in preventing STDs. Lambskin condoms only prevent pregnancy and polyisoprene condoms can be more expensive than latex or polyurethane condoms.
External condoms typically come in three categories of sizes based on length and girth of the penis: snug, standard, and large. After measuring your penis, choosing a correctly fitting condom can prevent discomfort, tearing, the spread of STDs, pregnancy, and loss of pleasure. The condom’s material also affects the experience, with latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, and lambskin as the leading material choices.
Related articles from Health Reference:
- What everyone should know about birth control, from the types to effectiveness
- Sex in water: 5 safety tips for better water sex
- Yes, birth control helps with cramps and some methods are better
- Sex burns about 3 to 4 calories per minute â€” here’s how to burn a little more
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