Condoms: Types, Sizes, Shapes, and Tastes

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The condom wizard is helping me choose a condom.

“I am the condom wizard,” he confidently declares, “and I shall help you find the sexually transmitted diseases or preventing unwanted pregnancy? Here are 10 tips:

  • Store condoms in a cool and dry place out of sunlight. Your wallet’s fine for the weekend, but don’t depend on a rubber you tucked away a year ago.
  • Check the expiration date. (Yes, condoms usually do have expiration dates, marked “exp.”) If yours has expired, toss it.
  • Don’t reuse condoms. (Come on, guys, there are other ways to save money). Use a new condom if you switch from vaginal sex to , and vice versa.
  • For latex condoms, use only water-based lubricants (K-Y and Astroglide, for instance). Don’t depend on natural skin or lambskin condoms to protect against STDs. They have small pores that may allow HIV, herpes simplex virus, and hepatitis B virus to pass through.
  • If you’re sensitive or allergic to latex, try a synthetic condom (usually made of polyurethane). These typically have a longer shelf life and can be used with both water- and oil-based lubricants. The downside: The ability of synthetics to fully protect against STDs hasn’t been proved.
  • Avoid condoms with spermicide. These are no more effective than plain condoms at preventing pregnancy, and they have a shorter shelf life. What’s more, they can cause irritation that may actually facilitate transmission of STDs, including HIV. Make donning of a condom part of the pleasure of foreplay. That way you’re less likely to lose your erection.
  • Over too soon? Try a brand of desensitizing condoms, which are lined with benzocaine to slightly dampen skin sensitivity and prevent premature ejaculation.

Whatever you choose, remember the old Boy Scout motto and be prepared. The worst condom failure is not having one when you really need one.