Here’s a Secret: Size Really Does Matter

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Commentary Contraception

Here’s a Secret: Size Really Does Matter

Annie Shapiro

Condoms are 98 percent effective when used perfectly, but only 82 percent effective with typical use. Wearing a condom that is too small or too big can impact how effective a condom is at preventing pregnancy.

As an avid sports fan, I spend many hours watching sporting events with my guy friends, and the conversation always seems to veer toward sex. I act annoyed that the boys just have to bring it up, asking me questions I would prefer not answer or consider. But, I must admit I actually enjoy these “sex talks.” I love watching NBA star Kevin Durant make an unbelievable three-pointer while sharing stories and information with friends.

I remember one evening in particular in the lounge at my friend’s apartment building. We discussed our high school sex-ed classes. Although our teachers demonstrated how to put on a condom, it was much more difficult on our first attempt. Practice makes perfect, right? Struggling to put a condom on, though, can be a real turn-off. (If only young men and women were taught some sexy tricks to practice safe, and hot, sex.)

We also talked about how to know what size condoms to buy. The boys said they use whatever is cheapest or what is guaranteed to feel the best. But in this instance, size is just as important as pleasure.

Condoms are 98 percent effective when used perfectly, but only 82 percent effective with typical use. Wearing a condom that is too small or too big (Come on, guys! We know you don’t ALL need Magnums) can make a difference in how effective a condom is at preventing pregnancy. Wear a condom that’s too tight and it could break. Wear one that’s too big and it could slip off.  

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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How can we expect young people to engage in safe and healthy sexual activities if we never inform them that both size – condom size that is – and correct use matter?

Fortunately there are a variety of innovative male contraceptive products either on the market or in clinical trial that will make putting on condoms easier and offer contraceptive alternatives.  

South Africans developed the ready-to-wear Pronto condom. The condom is in an applicator and one simply has to break the packaging, stretch, and pull down. This design limits the time it takes to put on a condom and the potential for mishaps. This condom, or others like it, could really help close the gap between potential and real effectiveness; however, this condom is currently not for sale in any nation outside of South Africa.

There is also the prospect of a new male contraceptive gel. The University of California Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute shared its study that combined Nestorone and Testosterone to lower sperm count in men. However, this option will not be available for a few more years due to the need for further testing.

A couple of other options appear promising in theory, but not all that attractive to potential male consumers. A testicular contraceptive injection is being tested in India and the use of ultrasound to kill off sperm-growing cells is also being studied.  Let’s be real – pap smears and speculums are not exactly comfortable so I guess I can understand if some guys are not that excited about zapping or stabbing their testicles.   

This is just a glimpse of what may come in the near future, but we still need to continue to push for research, development, and testing of new technologies.  The more options that are available to sexually-active young people, the more likely we are to find one that fits our personal sex lives and protects us adequately.

Until this happens, we have to stop short-shafting men (pun intended). We need to teach young men and women how to use a condom properly, including knowing which size to use.

Want to help other students at your college campus learn about sexual health and the importance of condoms (and have 500 condoms to pass out for free as a side bonus)? Apply to be a SafeSite condom distributor through Advocates for Youth.