The Best Condoms to Use, and Why

By Josie Brown

colorful condomsShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, tested more than 500 samples of 22 condom models. An outside lab inflated them like balloons until they burst to test for strength and reliability. They also submerged them in saline solution zapped with electricity to check for holes. All passed minimum requirements based on standards for reliability, holes, and packaging but some of them held a lot more air than others before exploding—as much as 45 liters.

Models that aced the test are listed below in price order. None of these smart picks had a single hole or tear, even though industry standards allow for a certain number of defects per batch.

Lifestyles Ultra Sensitive (71 cents per condom, 12 per box): A nice combination of performance and simplicity, this untextured, unadorned model is a solid choice for couples who want a plain, reliable condom. It’s among the thinnest tested, possibly a plus if you’re looking for extra sensitivity.

Lifestyles Warming Pleasure (75 cents per condom, 12 per box): Warming lubricant is claimed to heat up on contact. (It contains acacia honey, an ingredient in some “warming” or “tingling” adult products.) It’s also described as thin, but it was about average in thickness.

Trojan Ultra Thin (84 cents per condom, 12 per box): It’s even thinner than the Lifestyles Ultra Sensitive but no less strong—and not to be confused with the Trojan ThinTensity (80 cents), which was also tested and is also a fine choice.

Trojan Magnum (86 cents per condom, 12 per box): A good choice for larger men, this condom was among the widest tested. And it comes in a manly black box that any guy would be proud to present at the checkout counter.

Durex Performax (96 cents per condom, 12 per box): This condom is thinner than most and the lubricant on the inside contains benzocaine, a mild numbing ingredient that is marketed as a way to delay a man’s climax.

Trojan Her Pleasure Ecstasy ($1.10 per condom, 10 per box): It gets wider toward the tip, which may provide more comfort for the guy. And it’s ribbed all around the base (the “her pleasure” part).

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy ($1.10 per condom, 10 per box): It’s identical in shape to the Trojan Her Pleasure Ecstasy but with even more ribs, which are not just around the base but also around the top.

And the condom to avoid? Night Light Glow-in-the-Dark: Yes, it glowed in the dark but it was the weakest tested. Fewer than half of the samples made it to 25 liters of air before exploding, which might mean a greater risk of breaking during use. And too many had holes.


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Josie Brown is’s Relationships Channel Editor. Her most recent novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is in bookstores everywhere.

Her next novel, The Baby Planner, is  in bookstores now. You can read an excerpt here…

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