13 External Condom Types: Pros and Cons

Learn which types of condoms best fit your needs

Different types of condoms can prevent pregnancy, protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and enhance the sexual experience.

There are generally three types of condoms: external, internal, and dental dams.

  • External condoms go over a penis
  • Internal condoms go into a vagina
  • Dental dams are placed over the genitals for oral sex

Each type of condom can have different features—for example, some are made with textured materials, while others are coated with flavors.

When looking for a condom, think about what you need it for. Do you plan to use a condom as contraception, for STI protection, or for sex play?

This article will go over the types of external condoms, including those that offer contraception and STI protection, as well as condom types that can make sex more enjoyable.

Key Points for Choosing Condoms

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when you’re picking out condoms:

  • If you plan to use condoms to prevent pregnancy or STIs, make sure that the product you pick has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these purposes.
  • Condoms expire, so the FDA requires that condoms are labeled with an expiration date.
  • If you or a partner has allergies, find out what the condoms you’ll be using are made from. The materials are usually listed on the product package. For example, some people are allergic to latex, which is a common material for condoms.

Non-Latex Condoms

Individuals who are allergic to latex may want to use non-latex external condoms. These are made of lambskin or other latex alternatives, such as polyurethane or polyisoprene.

Non-latex condoms are a general category of external condoms that other types can fall under. For example, there are non-latex flavored condoms.

Like latex condoms, non-latex options protect against pregnancy. Latex alternatives protect against STIs, however, lambskin condoms do not due to their porous nature.


Spermicidal Condoms

Spermicidal condoms are external condoms that are coated in products that damage or kill sperm. Typically, spermicide contains nonoxynol-9, a type of detergent.

Like non-latex condoms, spermicidal condoms are in a larger category of condoms that other types may fall under. There are ribbed spermicidal condoms, for instance.

Using spermicidal condoms can help prevent pregnancy and STIs. However, nonoxynol-9 may cause irritation and some individuals may be allergic to this ingredient.


Glow-In-The-Dark Condoms

Glow-in-the-dark condoms can be both fun and functional. Most brands of glow-in-the-dark external condoms are FDA-approved to help prevent pregnancy and STIs.

To make them glow, expose the external condom to light for at least 30 seconds before putting it on.

Glow-in-the-dark external condoms are usually non-toxic and made in three layers:

  • The first two layers, inner and outer, consist of regular latex (a material in most rubber products, to which some people are allergic).
  • The third layer, sealed between the first two layers, contains a safe dye that glows after being exposed to light.

Flavored Condoms

Many flavored external condom brands advertise unique tastes and scents. The flavor is either added to the lubricant or coated on the condom.

Popular condom flavors are mint, grape, orange, banana, strawberry, bubblegum, chocolate, vanilla, bacon, and cola.

Sometimes, the condoms are colored to match the flavor, such as yellow for banana and red for strawberry. 

Flavored external condoms are generally used for oral sex. In addition, many of the brands are also FDA-approved for their durability and protection.


Studded or Textured Condoms

External condoms can be shaped and textured to increase pleasure for one or both partners, depending on where the raised studs and ribs are located on the condom.

Often, these products are advertised as being “ribbed for pleasure.”

Textured condoms may have:

  • Ribs: Some condoms have ribs on the top and at the base. This placement adds stimulation, which can make penetration more enjoyable.
  • Studs: When the raised studs are on the inside of the condom, it’s meant to enhance the enjoyment of the person wearing the external condom. When the studs are on the outside, they are meant to offer more stimulation for the partner.

Studded and textured external condoms tend to be wider, have bulb-like tips, and have a more contoured shape. These attributes increase comfort and pleasure for the person wearing the external condom.


Warming Condoms

Warming external condoms are usually made of thinner latex than regular condoms, which enhances sensation.

This type of condom usually contains a warming lubricant that is activated by natural body moisture, which means it heats up during sexual intercourse.

The gentle sensation of warming external condoms is designed for mutual pleasure.


Pleasure-Shaped Condoms

The idea behind pleasure-shaped external condoms is that they tend to be looser and have enlarged, pouch-like tips.

The wider tips of this kind of external condom allow for more friction because the extra latex stimulates the tip of the penis.

Some pleasure-shaped condoms, like Trojan Twisted, also introduce a winding, twisting shape that allows for more forceful action. This type of condom design boosts sensitivity for both partners.


Colored Condoms

External condoms are available in almost every color. You can even find tri-colored condoms that feature countries’ national colors, such as America, France, Spain, Russia, and Italy. You can also find colored condoms with LGBTQA+ pride flag themes.

Dual-color external condoms are fun to use during the holidays—for example, black and orange for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, and pink and red for your valentine.

Many colored condoms are FDA-approved to prevent pregnancy and STIs, but always check the label to make sure.


Sensis Condoms With QuikStrips

Sensis condoms are lubricated, made of latex, and have QuikStrips, The QuikStrips work like the pull-off tabs on a Band-Aid to help you put on the external condom.

QuikStrips are meant to help you avoid common mistakes that can lead to condom failure.​​

Here are the steps for using external condoms with QuikStrips:

  1. Remove the Sensis condom from its foil package
  2. Locate the ridged ends of the pull-down strips located on the top side of the external condom
  3. Feel for the ridges with your fingers
  4. Hold the QuikStrips and pull down the external condom to put it on
  5. Discard the strips

External condoms with QuikStrips are also available in thin and micro-dot ribbed options. These types have a contoured shape for a comfortable fit. The dots and ribbed rings are designed to provide pleasure for both partners.


Kiss of Mint Condoms

LifeStyles brand offers Kiss of Mint, a non-lubricated external condom that’s coated with a powder that provides a sweet, spearmint taste. Another brand, Trustex Mint external condoms, are green and are made with a sugar-free formula.

These external condoms tend to be a little bit wider than average condoms and have a flared tip that balloons out to allow for heightened sensation for the person wearing them.

Mint external condoms are a favorite for safe oral sex. They are also FDA-approved for pregnancy protection.


French Tickler Condoms

Tickler external condoms either have a soft rubber tickler tip or are made of soft jelly. They come in various styles with nodules, nubs, ridges, and shapes that provide stimulation by “tickling” the inner walls of the partner’s vagina or anus.

Ticklers are novelty condoms and are not intended to protect from pregnancy or STIs.

However, they can be used with hormonal or permanent birth control. You can also wear an external condom under a tickler to ensure you are protected.


Tingling Pleasure Condoms

Tingling pleasure external condoms are formulated to provide an intense experience for both partners.

For example, Durex’s Tingle brand condoms are made with a safe, spearmint-flavored, tingling lubricant and have a fresh, minty scent.


Edible Condoms

Edible external condoms are available in a variety of flavors. To use, roll the external condom on as you normally would, then lick or eat it off.

Edible external condoms are for novelty use only. They do not provide any protection against pregnancy or STIs.


Choosing from the various types of condoms can be fun and is also a practical way to ensure that you’re having safe sex. Before you pick out condoms, know what you need them for. Do you need contraception and STI protection, or are condoms just for fun?

Whichever condom type you choose, always check the materials and expiration dates before using them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens if you use an expired condom?

    After the expiration date has passed, the material that a condom is made with becomes more likely to tear. If you use an expired condom, your risk of STIs and pregnancy will increase. 

  • Are flavored condoms safe?

    As long as you buy a condom from a legitimate store or online retailer, the condom should be FDA-approved and safe to use.

    However, some flavored condoms are only approved to be used for oral sex and should never be used for vaginal intercourse. Read the packaging carefully to make sure you know how a condom should (and should not) be used.

  • Can you be allergic to a condom?

    An allergic reaction to condoms is usually caused by an allergy to latex, a common material used to make condoms. It's also possible to be allergic to the lubricant or spermicide that coats the condom.

  • Are there condoms with no latex?

    Some condoms are made without latex. Usually, latex-free condoms are made from materials like polyurethane.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Birth control.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Labeling for natural rubber latex condoms classified under 21 CFR 884.5300 - Class II special controls guidance for industry and FDA staff.

  3. Planned Parenthood. Get luckier. Wear a condom.

  4. Planned Parenthood. What are the disadvantages of using spermicide?

  5. National Coalition for Sexual Health. What happens if you use an expired condom?

  6. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Latex allergy.

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.