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Which type of condom should you buy?

Not sure whether to go for ribbed, dotted, or standard condoms? We’ve got you covered.


From the first time someone donned a sheepskin condom right up to last night, when lovers across the world ripped open foil packets and got down to it, humans have had a mixed relationship with condoms.

On the one hand: protection from STIs, and unwanted pregnancy. What’s more, for me, condoms have always represented the freedom to shag rather than a restriction. My youthful escapades (which is a euphemistic way of saying all-you-can-shag buffet) were punctuated by that brilliant sound of the crinkling packet as one or other of us fished around in our jeans, followed by tearing it open like it was your favourite Christmas present.

On the other hand, though, there’s the sensitive issue of sensitivity. I can’t be the only person who’s had to sternly admonish a lover who whines that condoms ‘just don’t feel the same.’ And they’re right – they don’t. But that’s only part of the story. Sure condoms are sometimes a slightly annoying punctuation mark mid-foreplay, and they do slightly diminish that skin-on-skin feeling, but ultimately they’ve got far more pros than cons: especially if you’re able to weave them seamlessly into your shagging.

Condoms: ribbed, studded or standard?

When I was younger I used to like ribbed or dotted condoms. Not only did they feel nicer – a bit of texture adding an extra sensation or two – they also signalled to me that the person buying them had considered them as more than just ‘protection.’ Standard condoms feel like more or a necessity, whereas textured ones crossed that line into ‘fun.’

But I know they divide opinion quite dramatically. I did a quick Twitter poll to try and see what the rough split in my followers was – which condoms did they prefer? The answers were really interesting:

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While 23% of people wanted a texture of some kind, the majority said they didn’t mind or would prefer standard. Additionally, some people responded with an outright ‘hell no’ to the idea of any texture at all. One person went so far as to refer to textured condoms as ‘sandpaper prophylactics’ – ouch!

Realistically, if you’re sleeping with a regular partner you probably already have a good idea of their condom preferences. Maybe they go for ribbed, or even the newer ones which help to delay ejaculation. But if you’re sleeping with a few different people, or if you’re having a lot of casual sex, there’s definitely a case to be made for having a selection in your bedside drawer.

Which do you prefer?

One of the things I like about this kind of thing is that not only does it give you yet another glimpse into how unique people are – there’s no one correct answer about the ‘best’ condom to use. I also like the fact that, using condoms alone, you can start a pretty fun discussion during foreplay (or pre-foreplay) about the kind of things the other person likes in bed.

Like offering to buy cocktails and finding out if your date is a whiskey-sours-person or a martini-person, and whether they’re shaken, not stirred. Rather than just ‘have you got a condom?’ the conversation can be ‘which condoms do you prefer?’ and you can then wow them with your bedside condom selection – ribbed, dotted, standard, and varied just for their pleasure.

I can’t tell you which is the best condom to buy that will guarantee your partner will be pleased (although if you can only afford one batch I’d say you’re safest with ‘standard’). But what I can tell you is that you’ll save money buying them in bulk, and it’s always good to have a decent supply at home – along with a couple of different lubes, of course. There’s a reason they’re listed as sex essentials.

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