Dear Dr. G,

I am a responsible young man who had my sexual debut late in life, compared with my university peers, most seemed to have started even before university.

Perhaps I am a bit conservative, but I am definitely very cautious.

I read a lot about the undesirable outcome of sexual activities; I certainly do not want to end up being a parent at this stage of my life.

I am terrified of getting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and syphilis.

I met a girl in university and after courting for several months, we started having sex with the protection of condoms.

The experience of sourcing the condom is very embarrassing.

Of course, being fearful of pregnancy and diseases, I opted for the safest rubber.

People often describe using a condom as “like taking shower with a raincoat on” or “eating candy with the wrapper on.” The safe rubber I used was just like that.

I am keen to venture into other forms of rubbers and would like to put Dr. G on the spot for some assistance.

Can you tell me how many types of condoms there are in the market?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different materials?

What about novelty condoms?

Do they really work and not compromise on safety?

I am really hoping you can enlighten me with the idea of “mixing business with pleasure” for rubber.

Yours truly,

Pleasure Pete

Male condoms are undoubtedly the safest and overall effective form of birth control, withstanding 98% in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. More importantly, the protection against sexually transmitted infections through bodily fluids including semen, vaginal secretion and blood is paramount. Although total protection against some sexually transmitted infections such as Herpes and HPV may not be possible, this barrier technique is proven to prevent near complete spread of gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis.

Standard latex condoms are the most common type of rubber and most reliable choice for protection. Latex is non-porous material that has the tensile strength to withstand the vigor of strenuous sex. However, the protective effect of latex will be compromised with the usage of lubricants, massage oil, and spermicide. In addition, irritation and allergy induced by latex is also quite common.

Non-latex condoms can be natural or man-made. These include lambskin, nitrile, and polyurethane. The non-latex sheaths are known to have less tensile strength and can easily break, clearly lowering the effectiveness. Natural condoms such as lambskin are in fact made from the lining of animal guts. While the material may feel more natural and increase sensitivity during sex, these porous material can allow sperms and viruses such as HIV and herpes to be transmitted. Therefore, the usage of these natural condoms is often deemed ineffective.

The manufacturers are constantly researching to provide condom that is safe and pleasure giving. This ensures the barrier is like “having your cake and eating it too”, or “tasting the sweetness of candies even with the wrappers on”. Flavoured condoms are literally adding the extra flavor to couples’ sex lives. The effectiveness of such condoms is generally uncompromised, as most of them are just latex sheaths covered with tasty coating. This is especially welcome for partner who prefers barriers even during oral sex.

The textured, bumpy, ribbed, and stubbed rubbers are other creative condoms that promise to turn mundane lives into bumpy pleasure rides. The ribbed condoms are designed with extra bumps and ridges intended to stimulate the G spot in women, providing extra stimulation. It is believed 30% of women are unable to achieve orgasm from intercourse alone and the extra frictions from the designer condoms may help. Other textured rubbers including two-fold condoms are customised with variation of ribs at the top and studded base to enhance sensitive areas of the genitalia for both men and women. The intended benefit of textured condoms is to generate extra frictional contacts during intercourse; however, some couples may find the ridges, bumps, and studs painful rather than pleasurable. There is no robust scientific data to support or dispute the painful or pleasurable effect of novelty condoms.

Finally, one form of novelty condoms is glow-in-the dark rubbers that are typically latex, that are coated with a luminous chemical that is activated by the exposure to light. Such novelty condoms may not spark the lovemaking into luminous fireworks, it can guarantee some giggles between the sheets.

With the emergence of novelty condoms, many manufacturers have designed the condoms for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation, rather than protection. Therefore, for consumers who are curious to put on a fun rubber to embark on the pleasure rides, it is vital to utilise trusted brands that guarantees STI’s and pregnancy protections. Curiosity and open communications of attempting novelty condoms can even make “having shower with the raincoat on” pleasurable. Wes Craven, the famous creator of A Nightmare on Elm Street once said: “You learn a lot more from those bumps than from when things are going great!”

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