As a Boston-based company, we jump at every chance to get involved with the Bay State and its communities. We are longtime fans of Harvard Sex Week and its student-led initiative to empower members of the Harvard community to explore their experiences with love and sex by providing comprehensive sexual education programming on Harvard’s campus. When the opportunity arose to sponsor this fall’s programming yet again, we we’re thrilled to get involved.
After speaking with president Julia Bhuiyan about her goals for the week, we decided ONE’s expertise as condom fit professionals would offer a unique and fresh lens for students to learn about safer sex. On Monday October 30th, our team members Noah LeBlanc, Emily Segan, Emma Sturgis led “The Wrap, Unwrapped: Choosing the Right Condom With ONE.”
The Wrap, Unwrapped
Our first goal was to disprove the common misconceptions around condom fit and provide students with fact-based research surrounding condom problems (that many of us, and many of them experience). We began with light-hearted Q&A ice breakers to set the sexy-time mood and get people’s mind’s racing about condoms. Next, Public Health and Outreach Coordinator Emily Segan led us through some of the most influential research surrounding condom fit and condom experience.
The first study we looked at was a 2002 study of college-age males, who reported about their condom use in the past 3 months. Among the participants, 32% had erection loss while applying the condom (Crosby et al., 2002). This is a problem we hear a lot about. Penises are working hard to maintain an erection, but an ill-fitting condom means it has to work even harder. In another study conducted by Australian researchers, five major factors were highlighted when it came to condom dissatisfaction. These factors, the condom being too loose, too tight, too short, slipping off, and breaking, all have to do with condom size (Smith et al., 1999). Lastly, researchers from Hunter College’s Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST) surveyed nearly 500 gay and bisexual men to find that only 38.7% of the participants reported that finding condoms that fit their penis is “easy” (Grove et al., 2013)
Explaining the dissatisfaction and dangers of “one size fits all” condoms often garners positive feedback, and this audience was no different. It can feel liberating and comforting to know what 91% of condom wearers don’t fit into standard condom sizes (Herbenick et al., 2014). There is nothing wrong with you or your penis. Trust us (after all, we’ve talked to thousands of people about their condom fit challenges as we help them find their perfect fit condom).
Next, MyONE® Custom Fit™ Size Specialist Noah LeBlanc explained the five most common condom fit issues. “This is my favorite topic to get into. (INSERT FIT ISSUE PICTURE)
- We call this the red ring of death. A tight fit at the base not only increases discomfort, it also can lead to erection loss.
- Excess latex hanging off the tip can create friction against the rest of the condom and increase the chance of a breakage. It can also cause discomfort for your partner, and increase the chance of it slipping off.
- Too short, this leaves your penis exposed and can increase the chance of STI transmission.
- You may have full coverage, but having it be too tight around the shaft can reduce pleasure and cause further discomfort.
- Too loose can increase the chance of the condom slipping off during use, exposing you to STI's or unwanted pregnancy. It can also create friction and increase the chance of breakage.
To solve these issues we created our own catalog of FitCodes that make up 52 unique sizes. A MyONE® FitCode (aka size code) is a combination of a Girth Number (ex. 53) and a Length Letter (ex. H) to get your FitCode (ex. 53H).
MyONE has nine different Girth Numbers ranging from 45 to 64. Those numbers also correlate to the Nominal Width (lay flat width) of the actual condom. We try to color code these widths in our materials, and also provide them with names to ease the process of finding a fit. We selected terms like snug, classic, and wide in order to reduce discomfort and take away the negative impact that words like small, and big/large can have.
MyONE has ten different Length Letters, ranging from C (4.7” in condom length) to M (9.3” in condom length). We didn’t use the letters A and B because one day we hope to introduce two shorter length options. Our snugger and wider sizes are the best sellers of course.
One of the most interesting things you can see here is how Magnum and other extra large condoms compare. Magnums are only about 0.5" longer than standard condoms, and the base width is only 2 mm wider. They are flared as well, but you know that if it's too snug at the base you'll still be dealing with a few of the problems we discussed before. And most people need a wider and shorter condom – not a longer condom.
Finally, Marketing Coordinator Emma Sturgis finished off the day’s presentation with a discussion about ONE® Flex™ - ONE’s newest condom technology. ONE® Flex™ is the first ever condom made with the wonder material, graphene. Graphene is the strongest, thinnest, most heat conductive material on earth. Most notably, graphene is known for being 200 times stronger than steel and 1 million times thinner than human hair.
After nearly a decade of research and development, ONE® condom scientists discovered how to molecularly bond our premium, vegan latex with the wonder material graphene — creating one of the world's thinnest condoms. Preferred 2-to-1 over standard latex condoms, ONE® Flex is paving the way towards a new world of safer sex innovation. Harvard student’s were more than excited to join the #FlexSex wave and grab handfuls of free samples.
And that's a wrap! We had an absolute blast speaking with Harvard students and hearing their experience with condom fit. Education and community engagement is what we’re built on here at ONE, and it was an honor to connect with students at Harvard University. Interested in having us visit your college or university? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Thank you to the Harvard Sex Week team for hosting us and helping us put on another ONE of a kind event.
Crosby et al. Condom use errors and problems among college men. Sex Transm Dis. 2002 Sep; 29(9):552-7.
Grov C et al. Self-reported penis size and experiences with condoms among gay and bisexual men. Arch Sex Behav. 2013;42(2): 313-322
Herbenick D, Reece M, Schick V, and Sanders SA. Erect penile length and circumference dimensions of 1,661 sexually active men in the United States. J Sex Med 2014;11: 93–101
RA Crosby et el. Does it fit okay? Problems with condom fit as a function of self-reported poor fit. Sex Transm Infect 2010 86: 36-38.
Smith AM, et al. Factors affecting men’s liking of condoms they have used. Int J of STD and AIDS 1999; 10: 258-262