17 February 2010

Size does matter, say condom boffins

by Kate Melville

Nearly half the men who took part in a survey on condom use said they had recently experienced a badly fitting condom that resulted in breakage, slippage or penile irritation. The answer, say medicos in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, is to sell smaller condoms but label them as "large."

The researchers based their findings on more than 400 men aged between 18 and 67, all of whom were recruited via newspaper ads and websites. The men completed a questionnaire about the fit of the condom they had most recently used for penetrative sex with a female partner.

Forty-five percent of the respondents said that they had used a badly fitting condom when they had last had sex during the previous three months. The results showed that these men were more than twice as likely to report breakage or slippage and five times as likely to report penile irritation.

Worryingly, they were also twice as likely to report that the poorly fitting condom made it difficult for them and/or their partner to reach orgasm and also that they were twice as likely to say they removed the condom before sex had ended.

The study authors noted that the findings; "emphasize the point that men and their female sex partners may benefit from public health efforts designed to promote the improved fit of condoms."

Researcher Dr Bill Yarber was concerned that pornography may distort body image, and he emphasized the care needed in any public health or marketing campaigns to address the sensitive issue of penis size. "Men won't buy condoms labeled as 'small' or 'extra small.' Condom makers would be advised to start calling their smallest size 'large' and then move on to 'extra large' for medium size and so on. Certainly, don't label them as 'medium' or 'extra small,'" he warned.

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Source: Sexually Transmitted Infections