One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to condoms – and wearing an ill-fitting condom can often be as bad as not wearing one at all. If you’re going to the lengths of wearing a condom in the first place, make sure it’s the right one!

Shopping for condoms in the supermarket or chemist can be a challenge - especially for those below or above average size. Here at Condoms.uk, we're committed to stocking condoms of all sizes, to ensure that there's a fit for everyone in our range, and it's our mission to offer the very best range of condoms and sexual health products, backed up with incredible service every single time you order with us.

With this in mind, we researched how many men find that standard sized condoms don’t quite fit as they should, needing more bespoke size. We also commissioned a survey of UK men to further explore the topic, as well as collaborating with a sexual health expert to give some further expert insight and discuss the implications of wearing poorly-fitting condoms. Read on to find out more…

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Sales data and survey

Sales and Data Survey

There is no absolute rule for who should use a specific condom size, but as general guidelines, a condom that fits perfectly is less likely to constrict, reduce sensations, break, or slip off during intercourse.

Manufacturers size their condoms based on both length and nominal width, but as a rule of thumb, you should check the nominal width rather than the length when selecting the right size condom; that’s because most manufacturers make condoms longer than they need be so that everyone with a certain penis girth can find the right size condom.

Our range starts at 45mm right up to 72mm, including:

In 2021, XS and S condoms made up 15% of our total condoms sold, whereas L and XL condoms accounted for 24%, meaning that 39%* (almost two fifths) of our customers are wearing sizes not available off the shelf in most supermarkets and pharmacies. Based on this figure, more than 8 million men** in the UK are thought to be using poorly-fitting condoms.

As well as analysing our first-party sales data, we also conducted a national survey*** of 1,000 UK men to discover their experience with condom sizing. When asked, almost a third (30.2%) needed non-standard sizing – 19.1% found standard sizing too small, and 11.1% found that standard sizing was too large.

Looking at respondents’ age, the results showed that the 25-34 age group were the most likely to need non-standard sizing overall, with 54.6% saying that they found regular condoms to be either too large or too small. This age group was followed by 18-25 (45.2%), 35-44 (42.1%), 45-54 (24.4%), 55-64 (13.7%), and finally 65+ (12.4%). The 25-34 age group were also the most likely age group to find standard condoms too small (33.1%), followed by 35-44 (26.3%), 18-25 (22.6%), 45-54 (16.4%), 65+ (10.1%), and finally 55-64 (8%). Conversely, the 18-24 age group were most likely to find that standard condoms were too large (22.6%), followed by 25-34 (21.5%), 35-44 (15.8%), 45-54 (8%), 55-64 (5.7%), and finally those aged 65+ (2.2%).

By region, South East England most likely to need non-standard sizing overall (37.7%), followed by Northern England (30.6%) and Wales (28.6%). Men based in South East England were most likely to find standard condoms too small (23.1%), followed by Northern England (20.4%) and Northern Ireland (20%). South East England men were also most likely to find standard condoms too large (14.5%), indicating a wide range of penile size across the region. The South East was followed by Wales (14.3%), and Northern England (10.2%).

When it came to city-level, the results showed the following:

UK Hotspots of Where Men Required Non-Standard Sized Condoms

London most likely to need non-standard sizing overall (38.8%), followed by Newcastle (32.4%), Bristol (32.4%), Southampton (32.1%) and Leeds (31.4%). Newcastle men were most likely to find standard condoms too small (27%), followed by London (23%), Southampton (20.8%), Leeds (20%), and Belfast (20%). London most likely to find standard condoms too large (15.8%), followed by Bristol (14.7%), Cardiff (11.5%), Leeds (11.4%), and Southampton (11.3%).

Glasgow was most likely to be fine with standard sizing (76.7%), followed by Edinburgh (72.2%), Nottingham (68%), Sheffield (67.7%), and Manchester (67.5%).

Risks of ill-fitting condoms & expert insight

Ill-Fitting Condoms

Sex expert Ness Cooper****, Clinical Sexologist and Sex and Relationship Coach at The Sex Consultant, added that incorrect condom use happens to around 40 – 50% UK condom wearers, this could be from wearing condoms of the wrong fit or putting them on incorrectly. She mentioned that “many may select a larger of different size condom that’s not based on their fit, rather based on past negative condom experiences, in hope that a larger or smaller size will help. Many of those who have had poor condom experiences are due to psychosocial elements or incorrect condom storage or putting the condom on wrong. Changing the size isn’t always the solution to this but experimenting with size can lead to individuals get more practice on how-to put-on condoms correctly and use to how condoms feel”.

Also, “condoms have a long history of being stigmatized, partly due to being seen as a medical device. Changing outlook on condoms can help people understand how they really feel to them when wearing them. Using mindfulness methods and change of thoughts from the condom being seen as just a medical necessity but also as a pleasure aid can help. If an individual is concerned of change in stimulation from condom use, making them aware of the benefits of mixing-up sensations and how this can wider their scope on sexual pleasure can help”.

Too big

Wearing a condom that’s too big means that it  can slip off during intercourse, and a trip to the hospital may ensue for the condom to be retrieved from your partner’s body (which is not a fun experience for anyone, by any stretch of the imagination). A condom slipping off towards the end of intercourse can mean you ejaculate inside your partner with no barrier in place, exactly the scenario people try to avoid by wearing a condom in the first place. This can lead to STI’s and pregnancy.

Too small

Wearing a condom that’s too small can cause the condom to burst or split during intercourse or after ejaculation – which can again cause leakage of semen. This can lead to STI’s and pregnancy. A condom that’s too tight will also constrict blood supply to the penis and may in some cases lead to erectile dysfunction.

Other factors

Ness continued that “using incompatible lubricants or oils can damage condoms and may be the cause of regular breakages. Incorrect condom storage or out of date condoms can lead to damage to the material. Putting a condom on upside down  can make it feel tighter or looser, leading to it breaking of moving around. If your condoms are drying out during sex, it could be that they are past their use-by-date, or that a water-based lubricant needs to be used during sexual play. So even when putting on a condom that should correlate to the users’ penis size, it’s important to have correct education on how to care for condoms and put them on properly”.

How to measure and choose the right size?

How to Measure and Choose the Right Size Condom

You will need:

  • A ruler or measuring tape
  • String
  • Marker
  • Paper to write down your dimensions

Because most brands make their condoms longer than necessary, measuring the girth and figuring out what nominal width the condom should have is much more important than focusing on the length.

How to measure penis girth?

Take the string and wrap it around the thickest part of your erect penis. Mark where it crosses and use the ruler or measuring tape to measure the distance.

To get an accurate measurement:

  • Only measure the girth when your penis is fully erect. Otherwise, you may incorrectly get a smaller size condom
  • Measure girth at its thickest point (usually around the middle of your shaft)
  • Don’t wrap the string too tightly or loosely around your penis

Divide your girth by 3.14 to find out its width, then use this number to find out what size condom fits you:

How to measure penis length?

Whilst penis girth is the most important to measure, you might want to also measure the length of your penis when sizing the condoms.

To measure the penis length, place the ruler or measuring tape at the base of your erect penis, where the shaft meets the pelvis, and push slightly to ensure a correct measurement (fat tissue and hair may hide some of your penis’ length). Measure all the way to the tip of your penis.

To get an accurate measurement:

  • Only measure the length when your penis is fully erect. Otherwise, you may incorrectly get a smaller size condom
  • To measure length correctly, always measure along the top of the penis, not on its underside
  • If you have a bent penis, use a flexible measuring tape, and follow the shaft’s curve to measure its full length.

 If you’re still struggling to find condoms which fit you properly, why not find your size with our quiz.

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*Sales data based on 2021

**Almost 8 million figure calculated based on number of adult men in the UK (33.15m – source: Statista), ratio of these being sexually active (2/3 – source: YouGov), and the percentage of sexually active men who have worn condoms at least once before (92.4% - source: Condoms.uk survey, commissioned with TLF), and percentage of Condoms.uk customers who have purchased non-standard size condoms in 2021 (39% - source: Condoms.uk sales data).

  • Two thirds of 33,150,000 = 22,100,000 sexually active men
  • 4% of these = 19,496,400 sexually active men who have worn condoms
  • 39% of 20,641,400 = 7,603,596 men find standard size condoms do not fit properly

***Survey conducted with The Leadership Factor – 1,000 UK males (national representative in age and location)

****Expert insight shared in March 2022

 

With thanks to our expert sources for their insight for this article: