Condomologist

all things condoms

Some guys really are too big…or too small

Posted by Condomologist on April 3, 2009

Craig Roberts, a Physician Assistant  — love PAs! — at my beloved UW-Madison, and the clinical manager of the Blue Bus Clinic at University Health Services there and a good friend of Sex Out Loud, hollered and put me on to a report entitled “Penile dimensions and men’s perceptions of condom fit and feel” in the most recent issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Many thanks to him, as this study highlights something I’ve been hearing on the streets for years: While many men can, more or less, find a condom that fits adequately even if the sex doesn’t feel quite as good with it on, a good many others really are too big or too small for the average condoms — or at least they report that being the case. The study authors nudge those of us in the sexual health community to better grasp these issues in our prevention messaging, and they push condom manufacturers to tailor the product more specifically to varying penis lengths and circumferences, because ignoring this issue is irresponsible given the data — and addressing it could bring in funding (NGOs) and profits (condom companies) and, most importantly, save lives. The study had some flaws, among them that it looked only at men currently using condoms, not those who may already be resistant to their use or who have less of a real or perceived risk for STI exposure and/or impregnating a woman. And since I’m such a stickler for exploring different brands/styles, it would be helpful to know if those (about 50%) who said condoms fit fine have previously tried more styles or already have more info on the general array of products available to them than those with sizing issues.

I must say, this study (albeit just one of many) helps validate my sometimes obnoxious efforts to speak out in my daily work and get people to address this issue seriously: “Perhaps…importantly, these data provide some validation to challenges faced by those implementing STI prevention interventions who have encountered men who assert that condoms do not fit or feel comfortable. While manufacturers have designed condoms that are efficacious for men regardless of penile dimensions and that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, that some men continue to hold negative perceptions about condom fit and feel continues to pose challenges to efforts to increase correct and consistent condom use.”

And this from the abstract conclusion: “Those men with the most negative perceptions of condom fit and feel may benefit from an assessment of their condom-related concerns as a component of community and clinic based STI prevention interventions in order to help them select from the variety of condoms in the marketplace that they may find to be better fitting or more comfortable.”

It’s not as simple as Magnums for bigger weiners and Snugger Fit for the small dicks. Some guys got girth, some got length, some got penises so small that everything out there is too big for them. (This study was one of the first to look at the intersection of length and circumference and detail exactly what combination of the two led to perceptions of ill-fitting condoms.) At least this keeps the discussion going, and if nothing else make me feel better about doing this whole blog thing in the first place. I started out convinced that our prevention efforts focus far too much on distribution and availability issues and neglect that many guys (and gals) don’t use condoms because they just don’t feel that good (whether due to size or comfort). And I just hope others will come around a bit to seeing this issue as at least as important as procuring them in the first place.

If interested in the full text of the report, please let me know and I’ll see what I can (ethically/legally) do. I have access through a wonderful social networking site for sexual health professionals called stdpreventiononline. For you regular people, I’ll see what I can do.

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