Talking to your Teens about Condoms

So I came of age in California during the 1990’s and we had some seriously awesome sex ed. By the age of 15 my entire peer group knew to use condoms to prevent pregnancy and stop the spread of HIV. Every teenager I came into contact with understood the importance of condom use. There was no doubt if you were having sex you were supposed to be using a condom.

Yay us! Yay comprehensive sex ed! Yay society!

But here is the caveat. Nobody really had a clue as to how to wear one. You had to be having sex with someone who already knew how to put one on in order to learn how to put one on. So two inexperienced people had a helluva time trying to figure that out. Which increased their risk. They knew enough that they needed to be using a condom, they just didn’t know how to actually use it correctly.

Next problem- the free condoms never fit! Penises come in a range of sizes and shapes. Do we teach that enough in sex ed? Vulvas and vagina’s come in a plethora of varieties as do their opposite sex counterparts. The only standard is variation. We’re all so different it makes us alike. So penises are not all the same. You have to find the right condom for you.


I know there is this machismo, braggadocio thing around men saying that they need bigger condoms when they really don’t. And I know there are men who just don’t like the way condoms feel. That’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is being a young person with sexual partners who were genuinely too big or too small for the freebie Lifestyle condoms given out to sexually active teenagers. In fact, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I even knew condoms came in different sizes. When I found out all I could think of was how useful that information could have been in high school. How much safer people would have been had they had proper fitting condoms.

Here is my advice, when you talk to your teenager about condom use- make sure to mention fit. There are different sized condoms available and finding the right fit keeps you safer.

There’s nothing wrong with showing your teen where the condoms are located in the pharmacy/grocery store/Target. You don’t have to hang out there with them while they survey the options, it’s ok to point them in that direction and tell them to meet you in the bread aisle. Let them know that variation is normal and using birth control is normal and that being responsible for their own safety is normal. Also, you could tell them that a single drop of lube inside the condom can make a world of difference. You don’t have to share that bit, but it would be awesome if you did. 

Or you could show them this video: Teenagers and contraception video by NHS of the UK

If you need some data, read this post at HuffPo by Ron Dicker that cites (and links to) studies that link penis size and condom usage: 

CHEST Study Reveals Penis Size Linked To Condom Usage


Good luck! And be safe out there!

Talking to your Teens about Condoms
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