It’s one of the most important items anyone can buy, yet it seems that there might be a fundamental issue with it.
The humble condom can save you from two potentially life-altering things: unintentionally becoming a father, and picking up an STI. They are very much a good, and useful thing.
And yet, some people still refuse to use them for a variety of reasons. The most oft-quoted is, of course, ‘it doesn’t feel as good’, something of a flimsy argument given the two potential consequences above of not using them, but a new study in the US may have found another, more understandable reason why some people avoid them.
Debby Herbenick, a sexual health expert at Indiana University, led a study of 1,661 men living through the US that found that 83% had penile lengths which were shorter than standard condoms - with the average length being 5.57 inches. Virtually all condoms manufactured by, for instance, Durex, are around 7.5 inches long, meaning that, for men smaller than the average, there can be a lot of rolled up latex at the base leading to discomfort - indeed, in the US, until recently, standard condoms had to be at least 6.69 inches long and 1.85 inches wide. In the EU, the minimum length is 6.8 inches and between 1.73 and 2.20 inches wide. Quite simply, one size does not fit all.
Now there is a market move to start producing and selling custom-fit condoms, with a Boston-based company Global Protection using the brand ‘myONE Perfect Fit’ offering 60 different sizes, in a combination of 10 lengths and nine circumferences.
Ron Frezieres, a vice president of research and evaluation at Essential Access Health explains that for some ‘smaller’ men, “condoms tend to slip off,” and that condoms often felt tight because “shorter men had a big roll of latex at the base of the penis.”
Global Protections’s president Davin Wedel explained: “If they bought a small condom before and it was still too big, it’s horrible for men to have that experience.”
In order to be sensitive, the sizings for myONE Perfect Fit are given randomly-ordered letters and numbers, and they have reported strong sales already.
Longer condoms are considered to be safer for both contraceptive reasons and as a barrier against STIs - however, if the current experience is such that people decide not to wear them at all, then this is obviously far less safe for that individual.
When you think about it, it is surprising that, in a world where you can get pretty much everything made to your exact specifications and desires that we still operate with a pretty general range of condom sizes - hopefully that will change soon.