What size are you?

Do you know condoms come in different shapes and sizes? Does your teenager know that?

Five researchers from the University of Indiana have recently reported that lots of men report that condoms just don’t fit quite right – men think that condoms are too short, too long, too tight, and too loose.

It seems to me that anyone – teenagers or adults – would have a hard time using a condom if they didn’t fit right. Regardless of whether the condoms are too tight, too loose, too short, or too long, they won’t be worn if they don’t fit well. Not to mention the safety issues inherent with mis-fitting condoms! Too loose or too long means too likely to slip off during sex. Too short or too tight means too uncomfortable and likely to rip. Any of these things happening makes teenagers (and adults) less likely to trust, and therefore less likely to use, condoms.

So what to do? Try out different condoms. They come in different shapes and sizes, and there’s probably a pretty decent fit for you out there somewhere. A good place to start is the Dinah Project’s lovely condom review page. Many stores also sell mixed packs of condoms, so you can try out several kinds.

Even just knowing that condoms are different may help your teenager be open to keep trying different kinds until they find one that works. So be sure your teenager knows it!

Thanks to The Dinah Project for the condom picture!

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I always thought the “condoms are too small” argument was just an excuse to try to convince the girl to have sex without a condom. Good to know I’m wrong about that.

    Back when we used condoms there was only one kind that my husband didn’t absolutely hate–I don’t know if it was size or fit or what.

  2. Don’t leave us wondering, Alice! What kind of birth control do you use now? Because I know that all of my readers have sex safely responsibly!

  3. Oh, sorry. I have a copper IUD, a Paragard. It is hormone free (depression is a side effect of hormones for me), there’s almost no maintenance to it, and it’s inexpensive in the long run. Also, I’m in a monogamous relationship with someone who makes cute, smart babies.

  4. Thank you, Alice. 🙂

    (And that should have been “Because I know that all of my readers have sex safely AND responsibly.”)

  5. Hmm… this is very true, but there’s a teaching that they teach youths when it comes to safe sex. They say “If he says the condom’s too small, it’s just an excuse to have sex w/o a condom. Few men need a different size condom, so make him wear it anyway.”

    And yet… that’s just not true. Yes, some guys use it as an excuse, but I’ve also had partners with very thick penises that really DID need a large condom. The other ones were physically painful to him. Perhaps we should be teaching our youths that it might be an excuse, but keep larger or smaller sized condoms on hand, just to be sure.

    There’s a company that makes sized-to-fit condoms. Condomania carries them, and you measure your penis and figure out your size and then you get the right sized condom for you, but it seems they’re out of production right now. (Not to mention expensive and probably outside of the price range for most adolescents.)

    I’ve always kinda wondered why clinics that give out free condoms don’t give out free smaller and larger ones, too. The larger ones are perfect for dildos, so you’d think they’d especially be giving them out, seeing as they have multiple duty. Heck, most clinics don’t even give out dental dams.

    The Lesbian Services Project (who serves lesbians, bisexual women, and transwomen) of the Whitman-Walker clinic here in DC gives out the best safe sex kits. They’re known as a “sex box” and they’re a small folded box that you open that has a condom, lube, a dental dam and gloves inside. Printed inside of the box is reasons for the various items, including “Why would lesbians need a condom?” and then talks about how all insertables, penis or not, need to be wrapped up.

    They also have a brochure on safe sex that focuses on the actions, not the orientations, and how to be safe with all of those actions, regardless of the people doing them.

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