Most people can use a regular ol’ standard condom. Some people try a few different types and brands before finding the one they like the best, and others are fine with using whatever they can get easily. But there are a few reasons you might want to use a specific type of condom.
Latex (AKA rubber) condoms are the most common type of condom. But if you or your partner have an allergy or sensitivity to latex, you can use latex-free plastic condoms — these condoms are made from soft plastics like polyurethane, polyisoprene, or nitrile, and they don’t have any latex in them. Plastic condoms work just as well to prevent pregnancy and STDs as latex condoms.
Condoms also come in different sizes. Condoms are really stretchy and can fit lots of different penises, so most people can use standard condoms with no problems. But others might need bigger or smaller sizes.
If a standard condom is too baggy or slips off a lot, try a smaller one. Smaller condoms are usually called “snugger fit,” “slim fit,” “close fit,” or “true fit.” If a standard condom feels too tight or uncomfortable, try a larger one. Bigger condoms are usually called “Large,” “Magnum,” “King” or “Kyng,” “Maxi,” “Grande,” and “XL.” Sometimes people have to try a few different sizes and brands to find what works best for them. You can also use internal condoms if you have a hard time finding a condom that fits well.
Too-tight condoms can break or be painful, and too-loose condoms can slip off or cause semen (cum) to spill out. So it’s important to use the right size condom — using a condom that fits well makes sex more comfortable and pleasurable, and helps you get better protection from pregnancy and/or STDs.
Some condoms have textures (like ribs or studs), or special lubricants on them to help increase sensation or make sex last longer. These extra features may make using condoms more fun and pleasurable, but it varies from person to person — not everybody wants to use these or can feel the difference from standard condoms. If you and your partner like these condoms, go for it!
And don’t forget the lube! Using extra water-based or silicone lube with condoms can make sex feel even better and can also help keep condoms from breaking.
If you still don’t know what kind of condoms to get for your partner, there’s another thing you can do: ask them! Talking regularly with your partner about sex and using protection is normal, healthy, and enhances your relationship — it helps you make sure you’re both on the same page and have a good safer sex plan, and it can bring you closer together and make sex even better.