How to Figure Out What Condom Size You Need

Using the wrong size can impact infection protection, birth control, and comfort

How to Choose the Correct Condom

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

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One of the most essential steps to using condoms correctly is choosing the right condom size. Wearing an external condom that is too big can cause it to slip off, and wearing one that is too small can cause it to break. For maximum protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy, you need a condom that fits securely and comfortably.

There are plenty of condom size charts out there that offer a selection of sizes to choose from, but, to make the right choice, you need to do more than “eyeball it.” You need to take the proper measurements of your penis.

This article discusses how to choose the right condom size. It also covers some design features you may consider, such as condom materials, shapes, and lubrication.

Taking Your Measurements

External condom sizes are determined by the width and length of an erect penis. Once you have achieved an erection, here is the simplest way to obtain the precise measurements:

  • For length: Hold one side of a ruler or tape measure on your pubic bone (the forward-facing bone in the center of your pelvis) and measure to the tip of your penis.
  • For width (girth): Use a piece of string or a soft measuring tape and gently wrap it around the thickest part of your erect penis. Measure the length of the string or tape measure.

Once you have these two measurements, check different brands to choose an external condom that most closely matches your erect penis size.

How to Measure a Penis
Verywell / JR Bee

External Condom Sizes

External condom manufacturers use slightly different terms to describe external condom size. This can make selecting the right size a challenge. One brand may call an external condom “large,” while another may label a condom of the same measurements as “standard.”

Here are some general guidelines to help you make the right choice.

External Condom Width

External condom width is important because it affects how well the condom stays on. If it is too tight, it can be uncomfortable and easily break. If too loose, it can slip off inside the vagina or rectum, and you may not even notice.

For external condom width, use these general guides:

  • Standard external condoms have a width of 1.75 inches to 2 inches.
  • Snug external condoms have a width of under 1.75 inches.
  • Large external condoms have a width of over 2 inches.

External Condom Length

Length is also important because the external condom should cover your whole penis and leave enough space at the tip to collect any semen that you ejaculate.

For external condom length, use these general guides:

  • Standard external condoms have a length of 7.25 inches to 7.8 inches.
  • Snug external condoms have a length of 7 inches to 7.8 inches.
  • Large external condoms have a length of 7.25 inches to 8.1 inches.

When comparing external condom brands, check the package or manufacturer’s website to see if there is a reference guide outlining what the different sizes are in inches. This will help you select the best-fitting option.

External Condom Types

After you have selected a few external condom brands that are suitable for your penis size, you may need to purchase a few to try on. This will give you a chance to know which external condoms give you the best mix of fit, comfort, and sensitivity.

Whatever size you ultimately pick, never let ego or insecurity about penis size prevent you from getting the external condom that’s right for you.

Besides size, there are a few other external condom features that you might want to consider.

  • Material: External condom materials include latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene, and lambskin. You may find it useful to try several external condoms made of different materials so that you can select the one that is most comfortable.
  • Design: External condoms are available in different textures and shapes, and you may have a preference for one of these more than others.
  • Built-in lubrication: Many external condom brands, such as Trojan Double Ecstasy Condoms and LifeStyles Turbo Condoms, use lubricants. These materials may heighten sensitivity and pleasure for you and/or your partner.

You can also use a personal lubricant on an external condom to improve the sensation and comfort of your partner. Simply apply a lubricant, like Astroglide or K-Y Jelly, to the outside of the external condom after you have put it on.

Be careful not to use too much lubricant, as this can cause the external condom to slip off.

Silicone vs. Oil-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubricants tend to stay slippery for longer than water-based ones. Though oil-based lubricants are also slippery, they can degrade latex and should not be used on latex condoms as this can them to burst.

Summary

Once you know the length and width of your penis, you can select a properly sized external condom that is comfortable and offers full protection. Since external condom size descriptions can vary from brand to brand, you may want to buy several types of external condoms to compare how well they fit.

A Word From Verywell

If you are reluctant to use an external condom, there is a chance that you have not used the correct external condom size. Figuring out your external condom size is an important aspect of using external condoms both comfortably and effectively.

It may take some time for you and your partner to select the right external condom. If you are not exactly sure how to use an external condom, practice placing it on your penis ahead of time so that you will not feel rushed or flustered when the need arises.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the average external condom size?

    Regular condoms generally are 6.5–8 inches long and about 2 inches wide. External condoms are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so they must meet certain international standards.

  • Are external condoms one-size-fits-all?

    Not really, because penises come in such a wide range of lengths and widths. In a study of more than 1,600 men, for example, penis length ranged from around 1.5 inches to a little over 10 inches. Circumference ranged from a bit more than 1 inch to about 7.5 inches.

  • What can happen if an external condom isn't the right size?

    It can break or slip, increasing the risk of infection and pregnancy. In one study, for example, the risk of a standard external condom breaking increased by 50% to 100% for each additional centimeter of penis circumference. An external condom that’s too big may be more likely to slip.

  • Do I need to use a condom when using a sex toy?

    It is best to put a condom over any sex toy that enters the anus or vagina and is shared with someone else. Penetrative sex toys can transmit infections. Measure the toy’s length and width, then match it to the right size condom.

4 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. Herbenick D, Reece M, Schick V, Sanders SA. Erect penile length and circumference dimensions of 1,661 sexually active men in the United States. J Sex Med. 2014;11(1):93-101. doi:10.1111/jsm.12244

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Male (external) condom use.

  3. Planned Parenthood. How do I get condoms?

  4. Planned Parenthood. Can you get an STD by masturbating with objects?

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.