Does Condom Size Matter?

Getting your condom to feel right can be tricky. If it’s not comfortable, it can cause you to stop wearing them, and that can lead to the problems a condom is designed to help prevent, like unintended pregnancy or an STD.

The Challenge With Condoms

Shopping for condoms can be daunting. There are many brands available, each brand has many different styles, and there are many different sizes.

Condoms, most often made of latex but sometimes made from polyurethane or other materials, are classified as a medical device, so they have to meet standards regulated by groups like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

The ISO, for example, puts condoms through "air burst" and "electrical" tests to make sure condoms are free from holes and don't break. The ISO also mandates a thickness standard and sets requirements for the shelf life of condoms.

Still, the most reported problem with condoms is their fit. Up to 50% of men believe the condoms they use don’t fit.

One recent survey asked men to give their complaints about the fit of their condoms. Nearly a third of them said their condom was too tight. Others said they were too long, too short, or too loose.

Slippage and breakage -- also things related to size -- were also main concerns, though research says each happens less than 10% of the time.

Men have reported other problems, too. Some say sex just doesn’t feel as good when they wear one. Others complain of irritation, trouble maintaining erections, or that their condoms dry out during sex.

Is There a Right Size?

The average penis size is somewhere between 5 and 7 inches long and 3.5 to 6 inches in circumference, though penis size does vary.

As far as condom sizes, both the ISO and the ASTM set the minimum length for a condom at about 6.3 inches. Most are about 7 inches, and many have extra space in a "reservoir" tip to catch semen. If your condom doesn't have one, the CDC recommends pinching a half-inch of the tip of the condom to serve that purpose.

That said, some manufacturers offer condoms in many sizes. So to make sure you get the proper fit and feel, you may want to take a measurement. If you do, most experts suggest doing it while your penis is erect, from the top side.

Experts say most condoms will work well for most men. But if you think yours doesn’t feel right, you’re less likely to use one. So experimentation is encouraged.

But don’t overthink it.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 22, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

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Cecil, M. Contraception, published online Aug. 2, 2010.

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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: "Male Condom: Quick Facts."

Cecil, M. Sexual Health, Nov. 10, 2013.

CDC: "Reproductive Health: Contraception."

Organisation Internationale de Normalisation (ISO): "Natural rubber latex male condoms — Requirements and test methods."

CDC: "HIV Risk Prevention Tool (beta): Male Condoms."

Reece, M. Sexually Transmitted Infections, published online Oct. 30, 2007.

Trussell, J. Family Planning Perspectives, Jan-Feb. 1992.

Crosby, R.A., Sexually Transmitted Infections, February 2010.

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American Sexual Health Association: "Condom Sizing."

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