How to Determine What External Condom Size You Need

How to Choose the Correct Condom

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

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 the most comfort and protection, external condoms should be the proper size.

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

Taking Your Measurements

External condom sizes are determined by penis width and length. Your external condom size is based on the size of your erect penis. To find the length and width of your erect penis, you should:

  • For length: Hold one side of a ruler or tape measure on your pubic bone 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.

As is often the case with clothing, one brand may call an external condom a large size, while another may label an external condom of the same measurements as a standard size.

When comparing external condom brands, keep your length and width measurements in mind. You will need both.

External Condom Width

External condom width is important to consider because it affects how well the external condom stays on. Additionally, an external condom that is too tight can be uncomfortable and may easily break.

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 space for your 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.

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 them 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 add a lubricant to your external condom to improve the sensation and comfort for 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.

Silicone-based lubricants usually stay slippery for a longer period of time than other options.

If you are using a latex external condom, choose a water- or silicone-based lubricant. Oil-based lubricants can degrade the external condom's latex material.

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

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?

    Most are 7 inches long and 2 inches wide. This is because 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 820 men, for example, penis size ranged from around 2.5 inches to a little over 10 inches in length and from a bit more than 1 inch to 7.5 inches in circumference.

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

    It can break or slip. 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.

Was this page helpful?
5 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. Planned Parenthood. What size condom do I need?

  2. 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

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Male condom use.

  4. Planned Parenthood. What are the best condoms to get?

  5. Reece M, Herbenick D, Sanders SA, et al. Breakage, slippage and acceptability outcomes of a condom fitted to penile dimensionsSex Transm Infect. 2008;84(2):143-149. doi:10.1136/sti.2007.028316