Condoms can be a great, cost-effective form of birth control, and when used correctly, can also protect against STIs. But when there are so many different brands out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Dr. Nita Landry, OB/GYN and co-host on The Doctors, explains some helpful things to keep in mind when picking out a condom. For starters, Dr. Nita suggests using a latex condom if you can. The reason being, she explains, is that latex condoms are well studied. If you or your partner has a latex allergy or latex sensitivity, you can choose a polyurethane condom or other synthetic condom instead. The CDC says that these synthetic condoms are believed to provide STI protection similarly to latex condoms, but it’s not as well studied as latex condoms.
Dr. Nita says that natural membrane condoms are recommended for pregnancy prevention, but not recommended for the prevention of STIs and HIV. “Lambskin condoms have small pores that could allow for the passage of viruses, including Hepatitis B or HIV.” she explains.
If you think you have a latex allergy or sensitivity, Dr. Nita recommends latex condoms that don’t contain the spermicide Nonoxynol-9, as that could be the real culprit behind your reaction.
And always make sure your condom fits well, isn’t expired, and has been kept in a cool, dry place! It’s all moot if your condom is keeps bunching or falling off or if any prolonged exposure to heat has weakened the latex, because you’re increasing your risk for unintended pregnancy and STIs. “If your condom doesn’t fit correctly, you are not practicing safe sex,” Dr. Nita explains.
With that in mind, here are several different favorite brands, recommended by some experts who would know best:
The OB GYN: Dr. Sheila Loanzon