2 Big Problems with Condom Sizes

xl-condom cartoonCondom sizes are an important factor when it comes to enjoying safe sex. As many men have found out, getting the right size can make all the difference in their love life. Unfortunately for some of us, there are two problems that make it difficult to find a condom that truly fits well.

The first problem is restrictions put on condom manufacturers by the government, and the second is the psychological marketing tactics that the condom makers themselves employ.

Big Government Gets in the Way of Big Condoms

No matter what your political leanings are, I’m sure there are some cases where you’ll agree that government pokes it’s nose in where it doesn’t belong. One case in point is the FDA restrictions on latex condom sizes that can be sold in the US. These regulations only allow for condoms with a nominal width between 47-57mm. This range will be comfortable for someone with an average penis circumference of around four and a half inches.

The problem is that not every man has average girth. Some of us are a little thick around the middle—to the point where even the largest condom sold will be uncomfortable. In fact, it is estimated that between 5-10% of men living in the US have a penis circumference that is too large to fit into a 57mm condom comfortably and safely.

Yes, this is a safety issue as well. Stretching a condom beyond 10% increases its chance of breaking, and the likelihood of breaking increases exponentially with increased width. A man with a 5.5 inch circumference penis really needs to be wearing a condom that can’t be legally sold in the US. A 57mm condom has to stretch out at least 23% to accommodate him.

Latex can stretch out, but this increased stretching increases the chance of breakage and also puts uncomfortable pressure on whatever is stuffed inside. The main problem from an engineering point of view is the ring at the base of the condom. A condom that is too tight-fitting will pinch very tightly at the base. In some cases this makes it very difficult for the condom to be rolled down the shaft to put on properly in the first place. It digs into the flesh and won’t roll any further. Some men may give up trying to roll it all the way and enter their partner with the condom only half-way rolled down. This makes it more likely for an accident to occur in which the condom pops off the top and they risk exposure.

A condom that is too tight also makes it difficult for many men to enjoy sex because it can kill their erection. The base pinches so tightly that if they begin to lose their erection anytime after putting the condom on, they won’t be able to get their erection back until they remove the condom completely since it is cutting off the flow of blood to the area.

The Male Ego Won’t Allow Proper Condom Labeling

The second major problem that gets in the way of men getting a properly fit condom is the psychological tactics used in marketing them to the consumer. Our sense of manhood is closely tied up with our ideas of penis size. It’s a big no-no for condom makers to label any product as “small” because they don’t want to insult the manhood of any of their customers. So they have to brand small sized condoms with term such as “snugger fit”, implying that it is intended to be a tight-fitting condom and not simply one just for smaller than average penises.

On the other hand, the word “large” and any related adjectives are very much encouraged. Men want to validate their manhood by using a large sized condom, implying that they are well-endowed above the average. The problem of course is that a truly large sized condom—one made for men having the top 5% of penis girth—would be much too large for the average sized penis. It would slide off too easily and be a health hazard.

So condom makers play a game with their customers to stroke their egos. They create “large” sized condoms that fit an average sized penis. Most men can use a large sized condom safely, and the deceptive package labeling gives them a reason to feel more manly than their peers.

The people who are out of luck in this situation are those who really do need a wider than average condom. Maybe the word “wide” is the keyword here that could offer a solution. If the FDA would reverse course and approve condoms to be made in a greater size range to match the reality of different sized people, then condom makers could come out with a line of “wide” condoms in addition to the “large” ones. That way, guys who actually need a wider condom could buy one, and average sized guys could still buy “large” sized condoms to keep giving their ego a boost.

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