Everything You Need to Know About Condoms

Everything You Need to Know About Condoms

Basics on Condoms

Everything you need to know about condoms - Better than the Hand

Given that the goal of this blog is to improve not only the quality of self-pleasure but also the quality of partner sex, it’s important to review the basics of condom use. Here is everything you need to know about condoms:

Different Condom Types, Their Advantages, and Drawbacks

Latex: Latex condoms are easy to find and use and they are generally the least expensive of all condom types.  The only downside is that about 6% of people are allergic to latex, so they need to use a non-latex condom.  Lelo’s ‘Hex’ condom is the latest effort to combine natural feel with a protective barrier.  Lelo’s claim is that the Hex is the only condom to integrate the incredibly thin and strong material, graphene, into a latex condom.  The honeycomb molecular structure is apparently behind the material’s unique combination of thinness and strength, allowing heat and sensation to transfer between partners unlike anything else on the market.


    • Polyurethane: Polyurethane condoms are a great alternative to latex and are known to transfer heat particularly well, creating a more natural sensation than other condoms.  They tend not to be as ‘form-fitting’ as latex or polyisoprene and are more likely to slip during rigorous sex. Trojan’s ‘Bareskin’ is a leading polyurethane condom.
    • Polyisoprene: This is the newest addition to condom materials.  Polyisoprene condoms are soft, form-fitting and less prone to breakage than polyurethane condoms. Lifestyles ‘Skyn’ is a great polyisoprene condom
    • Lambskin: Lambskin Condoms transmit heat better than their synthetic counterparts, so many people find they provide the closest feeling to unprotected sex.  They are biodegradable and they are the only condom that can be used with oil-based lubricants.  Their main drawbacks are price (they are the most expensive option) and the fact that they do not protect against transmission of SDIs and STDs.

Protection from Pregnancy and STDs

While not a guarantee against transmission, proper use of condoms has been shown to significantly reduce transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission.  As far as ‘skin-to-skin’ infections such as Herpes/HSV-2 and HPV are concerned, condoms also significantly reduce the risk of transmission if the condom is covering the infected areas.  As noted above, Lambskin condoms do not provide protection from transmission of STDs and STIs.

Condom Quality

Most people don’t know that condoms are considered a ‘Class II Medical Device’ and, as such, are subject to FDA testing and regulation.  Manufactures test all condoms electronically for holes and other defects and they manually test select condoms from every batch.  The FDA also conducts its own tests of condoms and randomly conducts on-site inspections of manufacturing plants. 

Then Why Do Condoms Fail?

Even when you know everything about condoms, there are still some things to watch out for. Condoms are shown to be extremely durable and effective contraceptives and barriers to infection.  In the extremely rare cases where pregnancy or STD/STI transmission occurs while using a condom, it is believed that most cases are tied to one of the following examples of misuse:

  • accidentally puncturing the condom while removing it from the package or putting it on (think fingernails, thoughtless tearing, scissors, teeth, etc.);
  • using expired condoms that have been compromised by deterioration;
  • forgetting to keep a little room at the tip increases the risk of rupture;
  • remaining inside too long and allowing the condom to slip while losing an erection;
  • using the condom only before ejaculation, allowing sperm-rich pre-ejaculate to enter the vaginal passage;
  • using an oil-based lubricant, which will break down the synthetic condom;
  • using the wrong size (too small = greater chance of rupture and too large = greater chance of leaking or removal);
  • using the same condom for multiple (aggressive) sessions.

Using a Condom for Oral Sex

There are two main concerns when using condoms for oral sex: 1) stay away from condoms with N-9 or spermicidal lubricants: N-9 will numb your tongue when present for too long in your mouth; 2) stay away from oil-based lubes or foods when using condoms, as they will breakdown the material.  If using a flavored condom, be sure to test its taste beforehand, as most of the flavored lubes and condoms taste terrible. Try these flavored lubes instead. 

This article is an excerpt from the book, ‘Better Than the Hand: How Masturbation is the Key to Better Sex & Healthier Living.’


Magnus Sullivan

Magnus Sullivan has been at the forefront of technological and cultural shifts for more than 20 years. In 1993 Magnus founded eLine, one of the first system integration firms in San Francisco, bringing some of the biggest brands in the world online. One of his first clients was the storied progressive adult toy reseller, Good Vibrations. This was his first foray into the world of adult and he never looked back, partnering with the powerhouse, Game Link, to help create one of the most formidable companies in the online adult market. He has created two of the most awarded and recognized movies in the adult industry (‘An Open Invitation’ and ‘Marriage 2.0', which won The Feminist Porn Awards coveted ‘Movie of the Year’ award in 2016) and recently launched www.manshop.com, a reseller of sex toys for men, and www.betterthanthehand.com, a sex positive blog that promotes male masturbation and discusses the various social issues associated with it. Sullivan has written extensively about the need to expand and enhance content production in the adult industry and is also the author of ‘Better Than The Hand: How Masturbation is the Key to Better Sex and Healthier Living’. He is a fourth-generation SF-native, lives with his wife and children in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys kite boarding, skiing, triathlon, cooking, reading, writing and just about everything else that engages his mind and his body.

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