When it comes to condoms, size matters


It is always uncomfortable to put on ill fitting shoes, skirt or pair of trousers and the same applies with condoms. Nobody wants to put on something that is too tight or that will easily fall off during sex.

Multitudes of scientific studies, dating back to 1993, have revealed that 40-45 percent of men suffer problems with traditional “one-size-fits-all” condoms that do not fit them properly.

Common complaints include, “the condom is long, short, tight, loose or is difficult to put on quickly”.

The fact that men throughout Africa are apparently trying to have protected sex is great news in the battle against HIV/AIDS. But it is imperative that the size issue is addressed before they just give up on using condoms.

Studies have shown that when “condom fits better, it’s going to feel better too. So as well as making the condom fit properly and feel more comfortable during use, you’re going to enjoy using it more too”.

The better the condom fits, the less chance there is of it sliding off during intercourse, because an ill-fitting condom (whether too loose or too tight) could lead to breakage, slippage, decreased sexual pleasure for one or both partners, or a general disinclination to use protection, all of which should be avoided.

Research on condom and penis size has yielded mixed results. While we do know that condoms can stretch to many times their normal size, some studies have found that men with larger sexual organs experience condom breakage more frequently than men with typical or smaller-sized organs.

A study conducted by students at Emory University, in the United States, last year found that the fit and feel of male condoms is one of the most significant variables affecting its consistent use.

According to the study, men who reported poor condom fit are more likely to report condom errors, including breakage and slippage, as well as sexual difficulties and reduced sexual pleasure for both partners

Other studies found that breakage rates are the same regardless of penis size. In addition, a poorly-fitting condom can undermine its effectiveness in preventing STIs and pregnancy, as well as interfere with the pleasure and sensations for both partners during sex.

Recently, there have been increased reports of complaints that many condoms on sale in the east African nation of Uganda are too small, dealing a blow on the fight against AIDS in a country in which, by 2013, nearly 1.6 million people (out of a population of 37.5 million) were reportedly living with HIV, according to the 2013 United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) report.

AIDS is said to be on the rise again in the country, after years of decline, with as many as 80 000 people dying of the disease every year.

Tom Aza, Uganda lawmaker and member of Parliamentary Committee for HIV/AIDS was quoted by NTV Uganda as saying that a recent tour of areas worst affected by the virus has revealed that some men “have bigger sexual organs and therefore should be considered for bigger condoms. 

When it comes to action, when they’re having sexual activity, of course with the pressure, it bursts”.

“Some youth are complaining that the condoms they are being given, some of them are too short, their organs can’t fit in them,” another member of the committee, Merard Bitekyerezo, also told the country’s leading television channel.

According to the report, the lawmakers have vowed to push for better condom supplies and bigger sizes.

This is not the first time the issue of condom size has come up. In 2010, there were reports in South Africa that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, as some of the free condoms seemed not big enough for some people.

In 2006, the Indian Council of Medical Research found that 60 percent of men in Mumbai have penises at least 2.4 centimetres shorter than international condom sizes, and that for 30 percent of men, the size deficit was five centimetres.

These complaints might be seen as trivial to some, including policy makers, but the reason why HIV/AIDS is accelerating is not because men do not want to use condoms rather it is the size of the condoms that is discouraging them from using them, as studies have proven that one size does not necessarily fit all.

Therefore, there is need to come up with the correct condom size that will fit everybody.

November 2014
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