How To Correctly Size A Condom

Ensuring the Right Fit Reduces the Risk of Slippage, Breakage and Discomfort

condom-measure.png
Photo Credit: Emrah Turudu/Getty Images

According to a survey conducted by Emory University, 13% of college men reported having had some sort of condom failure during intercourse, including condom slippage, breakage or both. Another study from University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine showed, even more worryingly, that 21% of African American men don't use condoms at all because they were simply "too tight."

Both of these issues relate directly to condom sizing.

Despite having a wide range of choices in colors, textures and even flavors, consumers often aim for the middle when it comes to size. And that can be a mistake.

Ultimately finding a condom that fits—neither too snug nor too tight—can make a big difference between having trouble-free or troublesome sex.

How To Get an Accurate Penis Measurement

To properly size a condom, start by getting an accurate measurement by following a few, simple steps:

  1. Ensure the penis is fully erect before measuring.
     
  2. Placing the measuring tape along the top (not the underside) of the penis, measure from where the penis and pubic bone meet (the "base") all the way to the tip of the penis.
     
  3. Next, wrap the measuring tape around the erect penis, about a half inch from the base. Don't wrap the tape too tightly or loosely—just comfortably so that you get an accurate measurement of the girth of the penis.
     
  4. If you don't have a measuring tape, use a piece of string and mark it with a pen as wrap it around and along the erect penis. You can then lay the string atop a ruler for an accurate measurement.

    How To Choose the Correct Condom

    With these measures in hand, you can then determine the nominal width of the condom. That's the measurement across the ring of the condom when laid flat, which is most often printed on the condom packaging itself. Nominal width roughly correlates to penile girth as follows:

    • A penis with a girth of 4.5 inches or less has a corresponding nominal width of 1.8 inches.
       
    • A penis with a girth of 4.5 to 5 inches has a corresponding nominal width of 2 inches.
       
    • A penis with a girth of 4.5 to 5.5 inches has a corresponding nominal width of 2.2 inches.
       
    • A penis with a girth of 5.5 inches or above has a corresponding nominal width of 2.25 inches or greater.

    Taken together with the measured length of the penis, the nominal width can help select the condom that's right for you. While there are no hard and fast rules (no pun intended), condom size breaks down roughly as follows:

    • Small condoms are those that have a nominal width of 1.8 inches and a length of 6.5 inches and less.
       
    • Regular condoms are those that have a nominal width of 2 inches and a length between 6.5 to 8 inches.
       
    • Large condoms are those that have a nominal width of greater 2 inches and a length between 6.5 to 8 inches.
       
    • Extra-large condoms are those that have a nominal width of greater than 2 inches and a length greater than 8 inches.

      Whatever size you ultimately pick, never let ego or insecurity about penis size prevent you from getting the condom that's right for you.

      And try out more than one. Like shoes, finding the right condom sometimes takes time. Allow yourself to explore this with your partner, integrating it into your sex play. It may not only help spice things up a bit, it could help overcome some of the awkwardness and lack of spontaneity people often feel when applying one.

      The choice of condoms today is wide. Have fun!

      For conversion from inches to millimeters, use this handy imperial/metric calculator.

      Sources:

      Crosby, R.; Sanders, S.; Yarber, W.; et al. "Condom use problems and errors among college men." Sexually Transmitted Diseases. September 2002; 29(9); 552-557.

      Milam, J; Richardson, J.; Espinoza, A.; et al. "Correlates of Unprotected Sex Among Adult Heterosexual Men Living with HIV." Journal of Urban Health. July 2006; 83(4):669-681.

      Continue Reading