In light of the somber mood following the U.S. elections, SuzyKnew! brings you something more pleasurable to focus your mind on from our guest blogger based in Ghana. This article is a follow-on from Your Sexualicious Self.
To have great sex you first have to know what you like. Most of that comes from trial and error. It comes from finding out what turns you on even before you take off your clothes, whether it’s romance novels, erotic literature, porn, long yearning looks or poodles. Then it comes from exploring your body so you figure out what feels good, and learning how to make yourself come so you can teach someone else how to make it happen. And most importantly, it comes from figuring out the things that make up your optimal sexual experience and making sure they are a part of your sex life. The idea is to create a pleasure chest, a toolbox filled with a list of favorites: your favorite baby-making playlist, your favorite things to hear, your favorite foreplay moves, your favorite positions, you get the idea. You figure out what a sexual experience looks like for you and then you keep developing a list of the things you want to be present when you’re getting some. The first thing in my personal pleasure chest was finding the perfect condom.
See, I used to be a condom fanatic. I didn’t start having sex until I was 22 and someone had told me once, when I was younger, that having sex with a condom on was like trying to eat candy through the wrapper. It made an impression on my child brain. So I made a promise to myself: I was never going to have sex without a condom because then all I would know was wrapper-covered candy and I wasn’t going to miss the amazing fully-tasted candy that I had never had. This absolute dedication to condoms, and terror of being tempted to bareback it and then never being able to return to responsible behavior, meant that I couldn’t be casual about what kind of condom was starring in the play when I was knocking boots. A lot of women use condoms as their preferred form of birth control and STD prevention but its shocking how few of us think we have any say in which condom is invited to the party in our pants. We figure the guy is the one wearing it so we let the guy pick it and unless it gives us some kind of adverse reaction or infection we just kind of go with the flow.
Nah, chile, naaaaaaaahhhhh. I decided that since condoms were integral to my sexual activity I needed to find the best condom possible. Adequate, just wasn’t going to do. So I tried a bunch of different ones. I started with some random Durex that my boyfriend had picked up at the grocery store and immediately decided no bueno. So I did some research and then switched to a non-lubricated kind that worked amazingly with that partner for the entire relationship. Then I got a different partner and realized that that condom didn’t feel good anymore. So I went on a quest for the perfect condom. There are a bunch of condoms:
- What I call the normal kind: So here, we’re talking about non-lubricated condoms (which are just a rubber condom with no lube on it, for the women who produce oodles of lubrication, for couples who prefer to use a lube of their choice, or for folks who like dry sex). We’re talking about lightly-lubricated condoms (which have a small amount of lube on them to help the condom slip in but won’t provide much moisture for a whole round of sexing). And then we’re talking about lubricated condoms (which load up on the lube for maximum ease when sliding in and thrusting). With lubricated condoms you can decide between the ones with the standard silicon-based lubricant on them or the ones with water-based lube.
- Then come what I call the gimmicky condoms: So here we’re talking glow-in-the-dark condoms (which make dicks look like neon light-sabers and make them easy to find in the dark). We’re talking about colored condoms (which come in a rainbow of colors and allow you to match the guy’s junk to your sheets if you want). We’re talking about tantric-style condoms (which have tattoo patterns on them if you want something pretty to look at). We’re talking about flavored condoms (which are good for oral and for people who like fragrances in their naughty bits) and we’re also talking about edible condoms (which are for oral only and don’t provide any STD or pregnancy protection),
- Then come what I call the specially-engineered condoms: So here we’re talking about pleasure-enhancing condoms (which are shaped to allow for space at the tip of the condom so the guy feels increased sensation when thrusting and you get some extra feelings when the flared or mushroom top of the condom is rubbing against your naughty bits). We’re talking about studded condoms (which have studs, ribs, rings and raised parts that provide extra friction for the woman and added stimulation for the guy) and French-tickler condoms (which have actual rubber tickler tips, nodules, nubs and ridges on the outside of the condoms that tickle the inner walls of the vajayjay, but are not for STD and pregnancy prevention). We’re also talking about warming condoms (which increase sensation by warming up when you get moist and providing a pleasant slow low kind of heat during the humpty-hump) and talking about tingling condoms (which have mint in them that tingles and intensifies sensation). Other specially-engineered condoms are sensis condoms (which have “quikstrips,” designed to make them more error-proof when you are putting them on).
Condoms also come in different materials (lambskin — which aren’t too safe, latex — which are the most common kind, polyurethane, and polyisoprene). They come in varying thicknesses, from regular thickness, like the Trojan ENZ Non-Lubricated Condom I used to favor
to super-thin, like the Beyond Seven Sheerlon Latex Male Condom, which I later became a big fan of.
In my quest to find my perfect prophylactic I discovered that I didn’t much care about the color, flavor, smell and taste of my condoms. So the gimmicky ones all didn’t do it for me. I liked my condoms either non-lubricated or lightly-lubricated since the highly-lubricated ones sometimes felt oily and didn’t match the silkiness of my natural wetness. I didn’t mind ridges and bumps but they didn’t drive me nuts. What mattered the most was the thinness of the condom. I liked feeling every line and texture and groove on my lover’s junk when it was inside me and the closest condoms could come to skin the better for me the sex was.
So I tried the “thin” versions of all the major condom brands. They were all kind of…okay. So then I tried brands made outside the U.S., which are all easy to find online and in any sex shop. That led me to my favorite condom:
The Japanese-engineered Kimono MicroThin Condom:
And my second-favorite, the Thai-based Crown Latex Male Condom, which are almost as awesome as the Kimono MicroThins but cost less.
You’re thinking this sounds kinda involved, aren’t you? Maybe you’re thinking “It ain’t that big a deal, lady, I’m all about head anyway.” And that’s fair. But if penetration gets you off, or you are a big believer in safe oral sex and use condoms for fellatio, or you just want to maximize pleasure for however long or short the actual humping is, this process can be very simple, and very fun. Try one category. If you like it explore other things in that category till you find something that blows your mind. There are lots of hybrids too so if you love a bunch of different features, like say studs, warming and thinness you’ll find it. A lot of sex shops offer free condom samples so you can taste the rainbow without dropping any moolah and only start purchasing when you settle on what you like.
In my experience, your holy grail condom will usually be a favorite for your partner too. Different condoms might also work better with different people or at different times so you might find yourself with two or three favorites that you alternate depending on who has the privilege of being between your sheets. There might have to be some tiny compromises, for example my partner was very well-endowed and the Kimonos were too snug around the base, so we had to find Large Kimono MicroThins, which I thought were a hairsbreadth thicker than the Regular MicroThins. (My partner said it was all in my head because it’s the same damn condom and he was probably right). Either way, the compromise didn’t diminish my pleasure one bit. I also know of a couple where the woman liked a tingling condom but the guy wasn’t the biggest fan because it made him come too quickly so they would start with a tingling condom to get her going and then change to a studded one to finish her off. So believe me when I say that with a little imagination both you and your man can find your perfect happy place.
If you don’t have one steady partner to take this journey with, the condom search can be even easier. For casual encounters you can keep a bunch of condoms in your purse or car or in a drawer in your room for when you guys go back to your place. You’ll feel like a badass when you slide open your drawer and choose what you want instead of watching him fumble around in his pocket or wallet. You can cycle through the different condoms with the different partners until you find the one(s) that hit(s) your spot and then make that your go-to. You will take ownership of an important part of your sex life and be on your way to building your very own pleasure chest.
F.N. is a thirty something Ghanaian free-lance writer who alternates between living in Accra and Washington, DC.