Sunday, 6 November 2005 | Tags: , , ,

Condoms help prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies. But, with so many kinds, brands, shapes sizes, colours, and flavours, itís hard to know what to buy. We wanted to find out whether it really makes a difference when the lights are out.

The Basics

  • Latex is an ideal material for condoms but deteriorates over time. Check the expiry date. Latex condoms also breakdown faster in warm, humid environments like bathrooms, even if the expiry date hasn’t passed.

  • Allergic to latex? Try condoms made from polyurethane.

  • Lubricated condoms are a good choice to consider as it makes for a more comfortable experience for both. Plus, if there is too little lubrication, the condom could break. However, if there is too much, it could slip off.

  • A regular size condom fits most men.

  • “Thin” condoms are a good choice as they don’t tend to interfere too much with sensitivity.

  • Female condoms are a loose polyurethane or latex sheath, lubricated inside and out that is inserted into the vagina like a diaphragm. It’s considered a strong if somewhat awkward barrier. Female condoms are generally more expensive than male condoms.

Be Aware

  • A condom that’s too big can actually slip off.

  • Don’t pay more for condoms with spermicide. They don’t contain enough to provide any extra protection. Also, spermicide can cause a temporary minor rash or itching in some sensitive people.

  • “Ribbed” doesn’t seem to make enough difference to warrant the extra cost.

  • Labels don’t mean much since phrases like “extra strength” aren’t regulated by health standards offices.

  • Using the wrong lubricant with a condom can weaken latex. Be sure to purchase latex-safe lubricant that is glycerine- or water-based.

  • Condom packages must be marked with an expiration date.

  • If the condom feels sticky or brittle, even before the expiration date, it should not be used.

  • The female condom has resulted in more unintended pregnancies than the male condom, though proponents argue it’s because people are using it incorrectly.

  • Novelty condoms are just that – a novelty. They don’t offer the same protection as regular condoms.

  • Avoid natural membrane condoms, which are typically made with sheep orlamb intestine and are porous, allowing bacteria and sperm topotentially get through.


In a blind test, we gave our brave volunteers 10 days to try 5 different condoms twice each. Yup, that’s once a day, everyday.

We tested (all regular size): .  
  • Trojan-Enz, latex, lubricated, $0.47 each
. . Well.ca Drugstore.com
  • Lifestyles Ribbed, lubricated, $0.50 each
. . Well.ca
  • Durex Avanti, non-latex, lubricated, supposed to feel thinner, $3.20 each
. . Well.ca Drugstore.com
  • Durex Thins, thin latex, lubricated, $0.92 each
. . Well.ca Drugstore.com
  • Female condom, polyurethane. We didn’t bother disguising this one. In fact, we had to send along instructions, $6.99 each
. . Well.ca Drugstore.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)


Usage Test

  • The Lifestyles Ribbed condoms didn’t provide any extra sensation for either partner

  • Nobody liked the female condoms. They were awkward to use and felt weird for both parties.

  • The Durex Thins and the Avanti were the top choices.


The Durex Thins stood up to our tests. If you’re allergic to latex, try the Avanti, which also received top marks.



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