How to choose the right condom size?


Dear Dr. G,

I am in my early 20s and about to embark on a responsible and independent life in university.

I have a respectable upbringing, whereby my parents (especially my mother) are very open about sex education. She is not embarrassed to talk about sex particularly, with regards to condoms.

I appreciate the responsibility of safe sex and intend to use condoms to protect myself. But, nobody really taught me anything on how to size up my “asset” and what condoms to get for maximum protection?

Honestly, I don’t think I am so blessed in the pants and reckon I may need a slightly smaller rubber. I don’t think this is something I feel comfortable disclosing even to my liberal mother.

I really need to put Dr. G on the spot for some tips on getting the right size and the safest rubber, and hopefully not compromise on the pleasure.

First of all, how many sizes of condoms are there and how do men do the “fitting”? Is there any danger in putting on a condom that is too tight or too loose?

How many variations in the thickness and textures of condoms? Being a responsible chap, I really would like to know how safe are condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies?

Thanks for your help,

Responsible Raymond

A condom is a sheath-shaped barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. This simple device is crucial and listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being an essential, most effective and safe medicine needed in the health system. In the 21st century, the global use of condoms is estimated to be around 10%, which equates to six to nine billion uses per year. The use is generally more prevalent in developed nations at around 28%, and Japan holds the record of the highest usage rate at a staggering 80%.

The typical use of condoms amongst couples is 18% per year, and women whose partner use condoms properly will experience a 2% per year pregnancy rate. The uses of condom has also been proven to give protection against sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and HIV. Although the protection against HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and syphilis may not be as good, the overall protections against the pathogens are well studied.

The use of condoms has been documented since the 15th century, where glans condoms (only covering only the head of penis) made of silk oiled paper or lamb intestine were used in China, whereas Japanese utilised tortoise shell or animal horn for the same purpose. Rubber condoms were only made available in 1855 and latex contraception introduced in 1920’s. Although latex is known for its extraordinary tensile strength, tight condoms can still get torn, and ill-fitting ones can slip off during sex, defeating the whole purpose of the protection.

A recent survey by Google revealed the search for solutions for condom slippage as a popular enquiry. The search “condom comes off” will bring about 1.4 million results. While a search for “condom too big” obtained a staggering 3.9 million searches and “condom too small” only having a comparative 1.2 million queries.

These mirror findings by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), which reported figures of condom damage or slippages during sex as high as 5.4% of the time.

In reality, a condom should be snugging comfortably in the manhood. If the penis has too much room between the skin and the rubber, this condom is clearly too big. The reverse is important for the condoms not to be too tight to the extent of causing discomfort or torn. With the condom manufacturers traditionally supplying the rubber in a “one size fits all” manner, only 50% of men are served well with the medium size rubber. Clearly this has generated an unmet need for men who are too bashful to shop around for the availability of different sizes.

Many online condoms providers have given out instructions on how to measure the exact sizes before purchasing. These includes cut-out tape measures and even cut-out cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to estimate the girth and sizes of different manhood. In reality, sizing up the asset in the pants is a simple exercise. As condoms tend to be longer than the actual length of the penis to protect it, a man just need to take the measurement of the girth of the thickest part of an erect penis. A girth that is less than 4.7 inches will need to “compromise” with a snug fit, and a “blessed” girth of more than 5.1 inches tends to require a large size. All the measurements in between are just regular Joe.

Stigma and taboo is getting less in recent years, resulting in responsible young generations more comfortable in talking about issues related to sex. As the sizes of penis vary tremendously with the state of arousal, temperature and anxiety, it is near impossible to get that accurate measurement of the penis for that right fit.

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Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at askdrg@thestar.com.my

   

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