INS AND OUTS- CONDOM EDITION

Howdy y’all!
Today is Father’s Day, a yearly Sunday dedicated to celebrating the joys of fatherhood, and what better time to talk about……


CONDOMS!

For those of you actively avoiding fatherhood (or motherhood) (or STIs) (or any other reason at all, really) condoms are a cheap and readily available barrier contraceptive, sold everywhere form high-end sex shops to barroom bathrooms. We are taught in middle school how to use them, (or rather, how to use them on a rigid, stationary banana, not necessarily useful in awkward first fumbling, but what can ya do?) but are we ever taught how to choose them? My extensive experience advising customers says no. Most definitely no.

Condoms have been around since the 15th century, and were originally made from animal skin or oiled paper. Today, condoms are most commonly made of natural rubber latex, though there are non-latex alternatives such as polyurethane, polyisoprene, lambskin, and in the case of the female condom, nitrile (more on them later).


Latex


Latex is made by refining the milky substance secreted by the rubber tree (Hevelea Brasiliensis), and is particularly good for condoms because of its resistance to friction and tensile strength (condoms can be stretched up to 800% before breaking!). Latex condoms are most commonly slicked with a little bit of silicone lube, but they are also available with water-based lube, or no lube at all. Latex does, however, have a few potential drawbacks. They are incompatible with oils


(yes, even magical, wonderful, ubiquitous coconut oil)


and some people have latex allergies and sensitivities that make using latex impossible (important to note here: some allergies misattributed to latex condoms are actually caused by a reaction to chemicals used in processing on cheaper condoms. Can you or your sensitive partner blow up a balloon? Wear a band aid? Probably not a latex allergy. Important distinction to make!)


Polyurethane


Polyurethane used to be the go-to material for non-latex condoms. They are more resistant to heat and UV light, and therefor are easier to store and have a longer shelf life. They also have the benefit of being compatible with oil-based lubricants.


However, polyurethane is less elastic than latex, and therefore more prone to bunching and breakage, two big no-nos when it comes to condoms.


Polyisoprene


For that reason, polyisoprene condoms came onto the market in the early 2000s. This is a synthetic version of natural rubber latex, and has all its benefits (softer, more elastic) without upsetting latex allergies. It is significantly more expensive though, and unlike polyurethane, is not compatible with oil-based lubricants.

Back to you, sad coconut!


Lambskin


Being a vegetarian, I loathe to even mention these, but in the name of good reporting, I feel I must. Lambskin condoms are made from sheep intestine, and are sought out for their “natural feel” (I mean technically speaking, they are made from meat, just like us). But while they do provide protection against unwanted pregnancy, they do not protect against STDs. This is because the intestinal material is a bit porous, and while sperm are too big to fit through the holes, other infectious particles can.


Female Condoms


Another option for those with latex sensitivities are female condoms, which are usually made of nitrile. Unlike the male condom which wraps the penis in a (basically) unmoving sheath, the female condom is inserted into the vagina (or butthole!), lining the interior walls and providing more external protection as well. One of the benefits of female condoms is a more natural feel, without the sometimes choking feeling of a male condom. With lots of lube, female condoms can be super fun while being super safe, (especially if the dude happens to have the double affliction of being well-endowed AND allergic to latex. So far there aren’t any really great truly large-sized non-latex condom (too specific a consumer-ship a rep once told me. While the Skyn Larges are a good option for someone needing a little extra length, they aren’t much wider than regular Skyns, and nowhere near the width of a female condom.)

 


There are tons of other fun options available when it comes to condoms too. Some will have textured outsides, providing added sensation on the receptive end, some will have textured insides, providing stimulation to the glans and frenulum! They come in fun colours! They come in fun flavours! Some even come prelubed with warming or cooling lubricants, however it’s always a good idea to patch test these before use as some people find them irritating. And then there’s my personal favourite, the glow in the dark condom!

(Who wouldn’t want their dick to look like a light saber??)

Every condom is marketed as the thinnest and strongest in the world, the most like nothing at all! Barest, skinnest, naturalest evaaaarrrrr! And like anything else, those companies with the biggest marketing budgets tend to sell best, even though they may, in fact, be the worst. With better production standards, condoms can be far from the thick, rubber-tire smelling domes of yore. Brands like Okamoto, Kimono, One, and Sir Richard’s have upped the ante for thinness and durability. So with all this goodness available here at the Vancouver sex shop The Art of Loving, today there are no more excuses. Don’t be a fool! Wrap your tool!