One of the problems with sex education in our nation and our culture is that it is very negative. Everything is viewed from a worst-case scenario. Don’t have sex or you’ll get pregnant. Don’t have sex or you’ll get an STI. Don’t have sex before marriage or you’ll go to Hell. Don’t have sex or you’ll be a slut. Don’t have sex before marriage because you’ll become “damaged goods.” All of these negative messages become ingrained in our subconscious brains in ways that we don’t always realize.
One of the messages that many of us women heard when we were younger was never to believe a guy when he said he was too big for regular condoms. We were told that 99.9% of men will fit in a standard condom. We were told condoms stretch to fit and so there was no need for larger ones for the vast majority of men. We were told that a guy bragging he needed extra-large condoms was probably him trying to seem more manly in a society that has a distorted idea that penis size is related to manliness. We are warned that if he insisted on using Magnums, we should refuse because they would fall off and we would end up pregnant. Or worse yet, if he insisted he was too big for regular condoms, then he would try to have unprotected sex with us and we would end up both pregnant and with STIs.
Most condom size articles focus on length, and if that is the measure of using regular versus extra-large condoms, I have yet to have a sex with a man who couldn’t use a regular condom. None of my partners have been too long for a regular condom. However, what most articles don’t talk about is girth. This is where I’ve encountered major issues with condom sizing and partners.
In one of my earliest dating experiences, I encountered a penis which was average length but wider than average girth. I knew he looked wider than other partners I’d had, but he didn’t say anything to me about his girth. We enjoyed some wonderful foreplay together, and then the moment to put the condom on arrived.
I couldn’t do it.
I felt like a complete idiot. I thought maybe I had the condom backward and was trying to unfurl it the wrong way, something that seems to happen to me more often than it should. I unrolled it a bit to verify I was going in the right direction, and I tried again. I failed. I could not get the condom on him.
Thinking I was the most sexually inept person ever, I looked up at my partner and asked him to help me. It turned out he hadn’t used condoms with his two previous partners because in one case they had both been virgins and in the other they both had negative testing and decided against condoms. Thus, he wasn’t skilled in putting a condom on himself either. He tried and failed. By that point, the mood had died completely, and understandably, so had his erection. We resorted to cuddling and conversation, both disappointed we hadn’t been able to do more.
When I was thinking about the whole failure the next day, it suddenly dawned on me: what if this guy was one of the few who actually needed a wider condom? He certainly didn’t need the length, but there was no way to get the condom to roll down over his penis. Perhaps the condom was too small? Perhaps condoms don’t stretch as easily as we had been told?
Thinking maybe I had found the key to the problem, I went out and bought Magnums in anticipation of our next sexy time. I didn’t tell him I had done this. I was pretty sure he wasn’t bothering to look at the labels of what we were using. When the mood hit, this time I opened one of the Magnums and approached his penis with hopefulness. Sure enough, the condom fit snugly and comfortably. It rolled down without a fight. I had found the solution to our problem! My guy was just too wide for a regular condom. We went forward with desired activities with much more success this time.
Afterward, I let him know that I had been able to get the condom on this time because it was an extra-large one. He was genuinely and pleasantly surprised. He didn’t realize his girth was larger than most men’s because like most heterosexual men, he hadn’t spent much time looking at other guys’ cocks and because he hadn’t had many experienced previous partners.
I wonder how many people encounter this situation: not knowing when their partner really, truly does need an extra-large condom. One size really does not fit all when it comes to condoms, and not all men are bragging or lying when they say they are too big for regular condoms. In the subsequent years, I partnered another man who was also wider than average. This partner knew ahead of time that his girth was too large for a regular condom having gone through a similar experience to mine earlier in his sexual career. When I saw his cock, I knew he wasn’t lying. There was no way he would have fit in a regular condom. Fortunately, we were prepared with Skyns (due to latex allergies) which made for a wonderful evening.
Perhaps instead of telling people that most men don’t need extra-large condoms, we could start educating people about when a condom is or isn’t fitting right. Just rolling a condom over a banana as a demo isn’t enough. People need to try rolling a regular condom over a soda can (or wide bottle) to understand that not all condoms fit on all penises. It would be great for our society to have sex-positive education about condom and penis sizes.