If you’ve ever run to CVS at midnight to buy condoms, you know they typically only come in three sizes: small, regular, and extra large. But for some men, trying to make one of these standard options work is like Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to slide into Danny DeVito's pants (or the other way around). Guys know their penises are special, so why don't condom companies?
Condoms, if you weren't already aware, are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which states that the contraceptive devices must abide by certain size standards. Indeed, there are limits to the sizes companies can legally sell, with the minimum length being 6.6 inches and the minimum width being 1.85 inches. (Note that these sizes are for erect penises and leave a little extra room for semen.)
Until recently, the FDA had only approved a handful of specific condom sizes within those ranges—which is why condom companies only produced a few sizes to choose from. They had no choice. Until now.
This week, a Boston-based condom company called ONE® Condoms announced that it will be introducing a whopping 56 condom sizes to the U.S. market with the launch of myONE Perfect Fit® condoms, so every penis can now feel snug as a bug in a rug inside its tailor-made baby blocker.
“We believe that condom fit is the next great frontier when it comes to increasing use and acceptability,” said Davin Wedel, president of Global Protection Corp., the parent company of ONE® Condoms, in a press release. “Shoes and pants come in different sizes, so why not condoms?"
The FDA made the game-changing decision to grant ONE® Condoms approval to sell its product in sizes outside standard regulation in 2015. According to a rep for the brand whom I spoke with, ONE® is now "the only condom company that has been approved to sell this expanded range of condom sizes in the U.S." The condoms will be available for purchase starting this fall.
The 56 various condom sizes are derived from a combination of 8 condom lengths (4.92 inches to 8.19 inches) and 9 condoms widths (1.77 inches to 2.52 inches). Men who want to purchase the condoms can measure their penis using what ONE® has dubbed a "FitKit," provided by the company, and receive a unique product code that corresponds to their size.
But do we really need 56 condom sizes? Perhaps.
In 2014, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at 1,661 men in the U.S. and found that participants' erect penile length ranged from 1.57 inches to 10.24 inches and their erect penile circumference ranged from 1.18 inches to 7.48 inches. In a word: Daaaaaang.
Not only that, but as we hopefully all know, condoms become less effective when they're not used properly—which includes trying to squeeze a penis into the wrong size. In a study published in 2009 in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, half of its male participants reported breakage and slippage when the condom didn't fit properly. (These men also said an ill-fitting condom affected their orgasms and the orgasms of their partner.)
There's also the fact that, with the current sizes on the market, some men feel pressure to buy large-sized condoms to convince themselves and their partners that they're well endowed—even if that's not the case (and despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that women don't care about penis size).
But wearing condoms that are too big can mean putting oneself at risk for slippage—which increases the risk of STIs and pregnancy, not to mention an unsatisfactory sexual experience.
According to data collected by the British company TheyFit condoms, which ONE® Condoms now owns, only 12% of men's penises actually fit the condom sizes currently available in the U.S.. Of course, that number should be taken with a grain of salt, because—let's face it—they're trying to sell us on more condom sizes.
But either way, some men will surely stand to benefit from a greater array of size options.
"The product is shipped discreetly to customers with product codes, and the actual size won't appear on any packaging where someone else might see it," a rep for ONE® Condoms told me over email.
While it's easy for a man's sex partner to see a MAGNUM™ label and make assumptions, it's not quite as easy to judge a condom label when it features a nondescript product code for one of 56 sizes.
“Providing an expanded range of condom sizes has powerful implications for increasing condom use and making a positive impact on public health over all,” said Wedel in the press release. The company hopes the better fitting condoms will make men more likely to wear them and keep them on.
So rejoice, fellas. Come this fall, your penis will finally have the special snowflake designation you've always wanted. Or at least one of 56.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.