By Christine Nicole
We’ve all had to sit through sex ed while our teachers hammered safe sex into our brains. The cool ones handed out condoms to the entire class while the religious ones advocated for abstinence.
What they didn’t do, however, was teach us the things we should know beyond how to slip a condom on a banana. Here’s everything you should know about condoms but may not have been taught.
Keep reading to learn more.
Myth #1: “As Long As It Fits”
Truth: The Wrong Size Condom Won’t Do You Any Favors.
Size matters, at least when we’re talking about condoms. Wearing one that’s too big could cause it to slip off and wearing one that’s too small can cause it to break. There are three condom sizes to choose from: small, standard, and large.
But in terms of size, it’s not what you think—we’re talking mainly about girth here. The rule of thumb for finding the right size is small condoms are for up to two inches of width, standard are for up to two and a half inches, and large are for those who exceed two and a half inches.
Myth #2: “Any Lube Works”
Truth: The Type of Lube You Use Matters
Sexual lubricant is always good to have on hand. However, not all play well with condoms. Certain types of lube can damage condoms, causing them to break or slip off. Most condoms are made of latex. Oil-based lube including vaseline, baby oil, lotions, and whatever you find in your pantry can easily break down latex. Non-latex condoms containing polyisoprene react to oil-based lubes the same way, so pay attention to the labeling. It’s also important to note that saliva isn’t a good idea either as it can carry infections. Stick with water-based lubes. They’re 100% condom safe and they’re sold in most drug stores. Silicone-based lube is okay for condom use too—but not sex toys.
Myth #3: “Condoms Offer Fail-Safe Protection”
Truth: Condoms Don’t Protect Against All STIsCondoms are 98% effective at protecting against pregnancy and most STIs. Those being the STIs that are transmitted through bodily fluids. Unfortunately, there are STIs that can be transmitted via skin on skin contact—Herpes, HPV, Molluscum, Pubic lice, and in some cases, Syphilis.
Myth #4: “Condoms Last Forever”
Truth: Condoms Expire and Get Damaged Easily
Heat, light, moisture, and friction are all condom killers. That’s why your wallet, bathroom cabinet, and the bottom of your purse are not the best places for them. Sure, they’ll survive in your pocket for a few hours, but your best bet is to keep them in a dark, cool, dry place—like the drawer of your bedside table.
Condoms also have an expiration date, which is printed on the packaging. Once a condom has passed its expiration date, it starts to break down and becomes less effective. If the condom seems dry, sticky, or stiff right out of the package, don’t use it.
Myth #5: Double Up For Twice The Protection”
Truth: Two Condoms Don’t Make a Right
Condoms don’t like friction, period. Doubling up on condoms or using both a male and female condom is a big no-no because it causes too much friction. Too much friction leads to breakage, which could lead to the very things you were trying to prevent in the first place—pregnancy and STIs.
There’s a type of condom out there for everyone, and contrary to popular belief, condoms really don’t take away the feeling.
So get out there and find the right condom for you and your partner and use it correctly.