Condoms are a highly effective method of birth control that also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can find them in most convenience stores, drug stores, and grocery stores across the United States. They can be purchased without a prescription, and they’re relatively inexpensive.
What brand of condom is the best to buy? Learn about the brands Durex and Trojan.
How Condoms Work
When used correctly, male condoms are 98 percent effective and female condoms are 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, reports Planned Parenthood. With more typical use, these numbers drop slightly to 82 percent and 79 percent respectively.
Many other birth control methods rely on artificial hormones to prevent pregnancy. In contrast, condoms provide a physical barrier that blocks sperm from entering the vagina. Most condoms are made from latex or plastic materials that fluids can’t pass through. Condoms can also guard against some skin-to-skin contact. As a result, they provide reliable protection against many types of STIs.
Male condoms are typically made of latex, polyisoprene, or polyurethane. They cover the penis for protection during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. On average, each condom only costs about $1. There are many options available, in terms of:
- lubrication level
Female condoms are typically made of polyurethane or nitrile. They fit inside the vagina or anus for protection during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. They’re a bit more expensive than male condoms, ranging in price from $2 to $4 each. There are far fewer options available beyond the basic sheath.
Some people choose condoms made from natural materials, such as lambskin, due to a sensitivity or allergy to latex. Natural materials aren’t as effective at blocking STI transmission because they’re more porous than latex. This means the material contains tiny holes through which fluids can pass. If you have a latex allergy, speak with your doctor about your options.
When it comes to choosing a specific brand and type of condom, it’s pretty much up to you and your preferences. No one type of condom is necessarily better than another. Both Durex and Trojan offer a wide variety of safe and effective condoms that are reliable and well-tested.
Founded as the London Rubber Company in 1915, Durex has over 90 years of experience making condoms. Today, Durex offers an array of condoms, lubricants, and vibrators.
Durex was the first condom manufacturer to develop and use electronic testing on their products. International standards require condoms to withstand up to 18 liters of air in electronic testing. Durex condoms can handle a whopping 40 liters of air without being compromised.
Compared to other brands, Durex has a relatively small range of products. Only seven types of condoms are listed on its website.
Here are some of their more popular options:
- Avanti Bare RealFeel condoms are ultra-thin, non-latex condoms that simulate skin-on-skin contact. They’re made from high-tech polyisoprene, which is a great option for people with latex allergies who want better STI protection than they might get from natural materials.
- Invisible Ultra Thin condoms are the thinnest condoms available in the Durex line. Durex claims these maximize sensation while providing security and protection.
- Intense Sensation Studded condoms have hundreds of studs. This latex condom is designed to enhance pleasure. It also features a reservoir tip for added protection.
Trojan offers about 30 different varieties of condoms, along with an array of vibrators and water-based lubricants. Like Durex, it’s been around for about 90 years.
With so many types of condoms in the Trojan product line, it can be hard to choose just one. The Trojan website offers an easy-to-use tool to help you choose a product with the right mix of features for you. You can type in your preferences for fit, material, and lubricant, as well as any specific design.
Here are some popular options:
- Supra Bareskin condoms are lauded as America’s “thinnest non-latex condoms.” Supra condoms are made from medical-grade polyurethane. Their thin material helps transfer more body heat during sex while remaining strong enough to provide protection.
- Groove condoms are a new condom in Trojan’s line has been designed to provide lubrication that lasts up to two times longer than a standard lubricated condom. The secret is in its patent-pending ribbed texture, which keeps lubricant in place so it won’t rub off during sex.
- Unlike Durex, Trojan provides a wide array of condoms for larger penises. Magnum condoms are available with lubricants, pleasure-enhancing textures, and other fun features.
How to Use Male Condoms
When used correctly, condoms provide solid protection against pregnancy and STIs. It’s worth taking the time and attention needed to use them properly. This can help you avoid slips, spills, tearing, and other mishaps.
To use male condoms:
- Open the package carefully. Don’t use your teeth, which can tear the condom.
- Pinch the tip of the condom with your fingers when you put it on. This will help leave room for semen.
- Place the condom on top of the erect penis. Then, use your other hand to unroll it down the penis shaft slowly.
- Consider using a water-based lubricant with your condom. This can protect against too much friction.
- After ejaculation, remove the condom. Hold the base of the condom while you take it off to avoid spills.
Condoms shouldn’t be reused. When you’ve finished using one, throw it in the garbage right away. Don’t flush it down the toilet.
What If the Condom Breaks?
Even with extra care, your condom may break during or after sex. Try your best to stay calm if this happens.
You can find over-the-counter emergency contraception, such as Plan B One-Step, at many drug stores. Emergency contraception stops the release of an egg from the ovary, a process known as ovulation. It may prevent sperm from fertilizing an already-released egg. It may also prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus. According to the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, the pill can prevent pregnancy in seven out of eight cases when taken within 72 hours of your birth control failure.
Women may experience some side effects after taking emergency contraception, such as:
- an early or late period
- a heavier or lighter flow during your period
- breast tenderness
Emergency contraception isn’t intended for use as a regular birth control option. It’s also important to know that it doesn’t protect against STIs.
If you think you may have come in contact with someone who is STI-positive, take these steps to protect your health:
- When possible, ask your partner about their sexual history and if they have any history of STIs.
- Visit your doctor to get an STI test as soon as possible.
- Monitor yourself for any symptoms of a possible STI.
Common STIs and symptoms include:
- If you have syphilis, you may notice small, usually painless, sores around your genitals. You may also develop a rash, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.
- If you have chlamydia, you may experience painful urination, abdominal pain, and unusual discharge from your genitals. Women with chlamydia may notice spotting between periods. Men may develop testicular pain.
- If you have gonorrhea, you may notice unusual discharge, a burning sensation when urinating, pain with bowel movements, and anal itching.
- If you have genital herpes, you may develop small bumps, blisters, pain, or itching in or around your genital area.
Contact your doctor today if you have any of these symptoms.
It’s important to know that many STIs can be asymptomatic, especially in their early stages. This means you may not know you have an STI for some time. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s possible to pass an STI along to other sexual partners. It’s best to practice safe sex and consider holding off on sex until you know that you and your partner are STI-free. Many STIs can be treated.
Proper usage is more important than brand when it comes to getting the best possible protection from latex and plastic condoms. To avoid snags and tears, never use your teeth to open a condom wrapper. Use a new condom whenever you have sex. Follow the package directions to put it on. Beyond that, have fun experimenting with different types of condoms to see which kind works best for you and your partner.
Condoms alone provide good protection against STIs and pregnancy. Using a second form of birth control along with condoms can lower your risk of accidental pregnancy even more. If you’re looking for an additional method of birth control, you and your partner might consider using hormonal birth control pills, an intrauterine device (IUD), or other options. Your doctor can provide you with information on each type of birth control. They can also help you decide which type might work best for you. Speak with your partner and write down any questions you may have to discuss at your doctor’s appointment.
No other birth control option protects against STIs, so using condoms is your best defense. No matter what brand of condom you choose, using a condom is a smart decision for your health.