Person with brown hair holding several packages of condoms in front of their face, only showing their eyes

Grove’s guide to natural condoms: How to pick sizes, materials, and more for the best sexual experiences.

Last Updated: April 20, 2021

Learn everything you need to know about condom sizes, types, usage, and options for a guaranteed sexy and safe encounter.

Like our cable or internet connections, condoms only seem to come up when they don’t work. According to the Mayo Clinic, "[external] condoms are generally safe and effective." But there are a few risks associated with condoms: latex allergies mainly and the small percentage of condom breakages during sex (which can lead to pregnancy and STIs). Cleveland Clinic also points out urinary tract infections and irritation (for both men and women) as smaller risks.

If they work as intended, though, they fade into the background and let you focus on the heat of the moment. But, even if they’re working correctly, it’s worth asking if you’re using the right materials (and size) for the best sexual experience.

Shopping for condoms can be overwhelming, considering the sheer number of brands, shapes, sizes, textures, materials, and, yes, flavors available — all promising an ecstatic romp in the sack. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be all that ecstatic if you choose the wrong condom, but fear not, because we’ve got you covered before you get covered. Here’s what you need to know to pick the best condoms to keep you safe, childless, and satisfied in bed.

What are condoms?

Condoms are protective barriers that fit over a penis or other phallic-shaped object. When used properly, condoms lower the chance of pregnancy and dramatically reduce the risk for both parties of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection.

Condoms are considered a class II medical device, meaning they follow specific guidelines outlined by the Food and Drug Administration.

What are internal condoms?

Internal condoms, also called female condoms, are protective barriers that fit on the inside of a vagina or anus. They look kind of like a plastic tube with rings on either end, with one ring fitting on the inside of the body and one covering the outside entryway.

Like external condoms, internal condoms are considered class II medical devices that can protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections. They are much larger than external condoms, and are made with similar latex and non-latex material options.

The CDC recommends not using internal condoms with external condoms — this can cause tearing which can lead to pregnancy and STI transmission. They also recommend not reusing internal condoms, they're one and done.

How do internal condoms feel?

After working through the initial new-and-awkward phase, internal condoms can feel amazing for both partners. Unlike external condoms, which require a phallus or erection nearby, internal condoms can be inserted and stay inserted hours before sex even starts.

When things start to get heated, the internal and external rings help stimulate the inside and outside sensations for each partner. For added pleasure, internal condoms come pre-lubed, and play nice with most water and silicone-based lubes.

Find out more about natural and personal lubricants that work best with condoms.

Added pleasure, combined with added sexual protection, has led to many people to prefer internal condoms to their external counterparts.

What condom size should I buy?

If you’re like many folks with a penis, you might be a bit self-conscious when it comes to all things size-related. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, though, because choosing the right size actually means you’re setting yourself up for a lower risk of condom errors and a more sensational experience.

If you’ve ever measured your penis (you know — just to know), it’s time to get out that tape measure again, because you’ll need to know the exact dimensions before knowing which size to buy. When choosing a size, the right width is more important than the right length, since condoms are made to accommodate a range of lengths. Scroll down below to find tips for finding the right measurements.

Condoms generally come in three sizes: snug, standard, and large. Snug and large condoms are often labelled clearly, while standard condoms often don’t mention sizing at all.

What size is a snug fit?

Here’s a breakdown of the sizing for snug fit condoms:

Width: up to 1.8 inches Length: up to 6.5 inches

What size is a standard fit condom?

Here’s a breakdown of the sizing for standard fit condoms:

Width: 2 inches Length: 6.5 and 8 inches

What size is a large fit condom?

Here’s a breakdown of the sizing for large fit condoms:

Width: greater than 2 inches Length: between 6.5 and 8 inches

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How to measure a penis for the right condom fit

The only way to get the right sized condom is to know your measurements. A good fit means a good time, and while measuring your penis may be kind of weird (if you haven’t already been doing it your whole life,) it’s quick and easy to do!

Things you’ll need to get your measurements

  • Flexible measuring tape or…
  • ...a rigid measuring tape and a length of string
  • A penis

How to measure a penis: step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Stand tall!

For accurate measurements, make sure your penis is erect.

Step 2: Measure length

Place your measuring tape against the pubic bone (where the penis meets the body) and extend it to the tip of the penis.

Step 3: Measure girth

Using either a flexible measuring tape or a piece of string, wrap it around the thickest part of the penis shaft. That’s the girth measurement.

Step 4: Converting girth to width

If you divide penis girth by pi (3.14,) you’ll end up with penis width.

What’s the difference between condom types?

While knowing the size you need makes condom shopping a lot easier, there is still an overwhelming of condoms. The main decider here is condom material, which affects the feeling, effectiveness, and cost of any condom.

Latex condoms

Latex is the most common condom material and provides a strong, thin, effective barrier against mingling bodily fluids. However, latex does not transfer heat very well. Also, it goes without saying that anyone with a latex allergy should definitely pass on these condoms!

Polyurethane condoms

Polyurethane is a type of plastic, which makes it a great choice for anyone with a latex allergy. Polyurethane condoms are generally more expensive and looser-fitting than latex, but they offer better heat transfer and a thinner barrier.

Polyisoprene condoms

A type of natural rubber, polyisoprene condoms are similar to latex in feel — but won’t exacerbate any potential allergies. Thicker than polyurethane but softer than latex, polyisoprene condoms hit a great middle ground between durability and optimum sensation.

Lambskin condoms

Made from lamb intestines, lambskin condoms are thin, durable, great at heat transfer, and come in very large sizes. However, although lambskin condoms are made from natural materials, they are also expensive, and do not protect against STIs, making them a niche pick best for monogamous couples.


How do natural, organic, fair trade, and vegan condoms work?

While lambskin condoms are considered natural because they are made with natural ingredients, they are not vegan. Many non-lambskin condoms are plant-based, they may contain added synthetic ingredients to adjust the feel, texture, or look. If you prefer your condoms au naturel, look for brands that tout totally natural or organic ingredients and which are devoid of fillers, parabens, and non-natural lubricants.

However, Cleveland Clinic does warn that natural condoms, specifically lambskin condoms, do not protect against STIs as effectively as non-natural condoms.

The best option is to look for more ethical, fair trade companies and condoms, like Sustain. Co-founder Jeffrey Hollender explains that "Fair trade condoms contribute to an improvement in the working and living conditions of the people who produce the condoms natural latex and ensure there are no children working on the plantation. We’re applying the Fair Trade principles like fair wages, improving living standards and working conditions, providing health care and education for all workers and their families. Fair Trade essentially means paying the full value of the latex we source and improving the lives of those in our supply chain. We pay a 25% premium for all the latex we purchase to cover the costs associated with these programs and standards."

"As a condom brand, we’re also working to influence other condom brands like Trojan and Durex to sign on to Fair Trade principles. Sustain is currently the only condom brand sold in the U.S. that is Fair Trade certified. And if we can do it, and we’re a small player, why can’t they? That would be a game–changer for the condom industry, and rubber industry as a whole," says Hollender.

Extra condom features

While marketing terms like “Fire & Ice” may sound silly, extra condom features can be a huge turn-on, given the right context.

Textured condoms

Condoms with ridges, studs, ribs, or other added textures can be great if you want more friction during penatrative sex. When using textured condoms, be sure to use additional lube, as extra friction can quickly turn to extra irritation if things get too dry.

Flavored condoms

Fun condom fact: many condoms (and their lubes) taste terrible. If you want oral sex on a phallus without the risk of STDs, STIs, or a bad taste, a flavored condom is an easy fix! Many brands offer organic and vegan flavors that taste great.

How to use a condom properly

The last thing you want is for your condom to get in the way of your good time. As long as you follow these basic guidelines, you’ll be sure to avoid breaks, spills, slips, and the dreaded inside-out moment.

Step 1: Wrap it up!

Pinch the tip of the condom between two fingers. Then, roll the base of the condom over the phallus until the roll meets the base of the penis.

Step 2: Lube that condom!

Condoms create a lot of friction during sex, especially if they’re dry. Too much friction can be unpleasant and can lead to the condom coming off or tearing during use. If your condom isn’t pre-lubed, add your own!

Step 3: Pulling out.

Once a condom has sperm in it, be careful! To avoid things like condom flips, slips, and leaks, wrap your thumb and index finger around the base of the condom to hold it in place as you pull the phallus out of any sexy spot.

Step 4: Throw it out.

Condoms are not reusable or recyclable, so after a job well done, they must be thrown out — but toss them in the trash can, because they’re also not flushable!

More quick condom facts

Can a condom be “eco-friendly?”

While condoms are one-use only and made of materials that take a long time to biodegrade, there are ways to ensure your condom is as eco-friendly as possible. Condoms made from sustainably sourced rubber and from companies practicing positive trade and labor practices can help soften the blow of their single-use status.

Can a condom be “all-natural”?

The main ingredient in latex and rubber condoms is all natural: both are derived from the rubber tree. But most condoms mix this natural ingredient with synthetic fillers. All-natural condoms may be more expensive, but they are pure in both condom and lube ingredients.

How can I put on a condom without ruining the moment?

By accepting that condoms are sexy, of course! Condoms are only as annoying as you make them. Changing the way you view condoms goes a long way toward making them more fun. Condoms aren’t a break in the action — they are part of the action.

Shop natural condoms

Ready to give natural condoms a try? Pick up some of Sustain's natural condoms. Lubricated inside and out, these condoms are nitrosamine free - which are chemicals of concern found in most condoms, and we don't think they have any business being in a body. They're also made with Fair Trade latex. Plus, every single condom is triple tested electronically for safety and is FDA cleared.

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