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Enhanced sensation! Increased pleasure! Better sex!

That’s the marketing pitch behind textured condoms.

But there’s something that commercials for these ribbed and dotted rubbers don’t tell you.

While it’s true that the texture can, for some people, make sex even better, for those with sensitive bits it can be irritating AF.

Texas-based sex educator Goody Howard explains that during penetrative sex, some friction can be good (orgasmic, even!). Heck, that’s why teenagers love humping and grinding so much. The friction-y frick-fracking feels fantastic.

But there’s a thin line between “take me to the O-zone” friction, and well, genital chafing.

(Squeezing your legs together just thinking about it? So are we!)

The anus isn’t self-lubricating, so this rug-burn-esque side effect may be especially common during penetrative anal sex with textured and ribbed condoms.

“Usually, textured and ribbed condoms are irritating because there’s not enough lubrication present to decrease unpleasurable friction and increase slide and glide,” Howard explains.

Lube, lube, lube. And reapply it before you need to reapply it.

“If you’re not using sex toys, a silicone-based lube like Pjur Light silicone lubricant is going to be your best,” Howard says.

Silicone-based lubes tend to be longer lasting than water-based lubes. Uberlube and Sliquid Silver, which are also available online, are decent picks, too.

That said, if you’re using silicone sex toys or are prone to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, pleasure-positive sex educator Reba Corrine Thomas recommends going for a water-based lube like Good Clean Love or Coconu water-based, which are also available online.

Well, for starters, they’re condoms!

And condoms are the only way reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) transmission and unwanted pregnancy at the same time, says Kecia Gaither, MD, who’s double board certified in OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine, and director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.

Let’s hear it for multitaskers!

And again, textured condoms can do what they claim to do: make sex better.

Wondering how? Howard explains: “For people with vaginas, it’s the vulva [that’s the external bits] that’s super sensitive.” Not the vaginal canal, which is what receives the most attention during penetrative play.

“A textured condom can stimulate the nerves that are present in the vagina better than a nontextured condom does, which may enhance pleasure,” Howard says.

Thomas adds that the ribbing and dotting can feel good if the wearer rubs their penis or dildo along the vagina owner’s clit between bouts of thrusting. Fun!

Oh, and according to Thomas, textured condoms can “create an incredibly fun sensation when used during anal sex.”

Load up on lube and still feel like you slid your bare bits up and down a carpet for an hour straight?

Quit using a textured love glove!

You don’t need to subject yourself to irritation for:

  • pregnancy prevention
  • reduced STI transmission
  • increased sensation

There are plenty of other ways to make penetration more pleasurable.

Make sure you’re not allergic to latex

“Almost all textured condoms on the market are made of latex,” Howard says. “So, it’s worth making sure you don’t have a latex allergy or sensitivity that is responsible for the irritation.”

If latex condoms leave you red, rash-y, and irritated, she recommends testing out the Skyn extra-studded polyisoprene condom, which is available online.

If you still find those irritating, opt for nontextured, nonlatex condoms, like the Skyn Original polyisoprene condoms or Trojan Bareskin nonlatex polyurethane condoms, also available online.

Thomas adds that you might also try internal condoms, which are latex-free and can be worn inside the vagina or anus to reduce pregnancy and STI risk.

Try a vibrating cock ring

A vibrating cock ring can go over a penis or dildo to add buzzy stimulation to the wearer and the receiver.

During P-in-V, “you can position the ring upward so that it presses against the receiver’s clit with every thrust,” Howard says. Or you can position it down so it directly stimulates the penis owner’s testicles.

“You can also put your fingers through the cock-hold part and use it in your hand to stimulate a clit or shaft,” Howard adds. Versatile.

Some vibrating cock rings that are available online:

Or grab your go-to vibrator

“If you’re in a position that isn’t giving your hot spot love, don’t hesitate to whip out your go-to vibrator,” Thomas says.

For clit owners, she recommends the FemmeFun Ultra Bullet, which is powerful and fits well between bodies, or the Unbound Squish, which changes intensity every time you squeeze it — both of which are available online.

If your hot spot is your booty, just remember to opt for something with a flared base, like the b-Vibe rimming plug or We-Vibe Ditto, which are also available online.

Use a CBD lube

“Anecdotally, people have told me that the CBD lubes have increased pleasure during penetration,” Thomas says.

Most are oil-based, meaning they aren’t compatible with latex condoms. Be sure to check out GoLove CBD, which is water-based and available online.

Want to see if textured condoms bring “ooo” or “ouch” to your sex life? Shop the textured condoms below:

For some, textured condoms lead to top-notch nooky (yay for them!).

But for others, dotted and ribbed rubbers are a recipe for rashes and irritation.

Luckily, textured condoms are far from the only way to enhance sensation, increase pleasure, and improve your sex life!

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.