Even if you’re well versed in using condoms, you might still have a number of questions about them. Maybe you’ve always been unsure how old you have to be to buy them (there’s no age limit), what size you need (try these calculators) or whether you can flush them down the toilet after you’re done (you can’t). Once you’ve figured out the first two questions — but before you get to the third — you might wonder what type of condom is for you. Do you want textured? Flavored? And what about the thickness?
This last conundrum can feel particularly overwhelming, as there seems to be an infinite amount of condom thickness options out there. You can get everything from “extra safe” (see: extra thick) to “thin” to “real-feel” to “ultra thin,” with the distinctions between them being minute, if not arbitrary. Still, most people will be drawn to thinner condoms, says Zachary Zane, a sex expert for P.S. Condoms, because they “increase sensitivity, so it feels more similar to having bareback sex.” This can also be beneficial for men who find it difficult to orgasm when using “regular,” thicker condoms.
With this in mind, many people gravitate toward “ultra-thin” condoms — but just how different are they to plain old “thin” condoms? According to online adult store Shycart, “Condoms can be as thick as 0.10 millimeters, with [most] condoms running around the 0.04 to 0.08 millimeter extent. Ultra-thin condoms go beneath the 0.04 millimeter territory, with one brand really parading a slimness of only 0.02 millimeters.” As reported by Condom Sizes, there’s a handful of brands creating condoms as thin as or thinner than 0.02 millimeters. Two Japanese brands are reportedly tied for the title of “thinnest condoms in the world” — Okamoto and Drywell, whose ultra-thin condoms are just 0.01 millimeters thick.
One question that often gets asked about these types of condoms is whether they’re more likely to break. In short, no — as long as they’re used correctly, they should be sturdy. The only con, says Zane, is the same as the pro: Ultra-thin condoms increase sensitivity, which can be good for some people, but tricky for those who struggle with premature ejaculation. “In those situations, you actually want to use a thicker condom that decreases sensitivity,” he explains (though sex coaches and therapists typically recommend other, more permanent solutions that don’t sacrifice sensation).
However, if you want a thinner condom, you might not even need to specifically look for ultra-thin ones, as some brands make condoms that are already thinner than usual. For example, P.S. Condoms make “regular” condoms that are, according to Zane, 40 percent thinner than your average condom — they’re just not marketed that way. “There’s a likelihood that we’ll see more of this — that the ‘average’ condom will become thinner,” he tells me.
Until then, if you’re looking for more sensitivity when practicing safe sex, the thinner, the better — and, when it comes to ultra-thin, it seems that a tiny 0.02 millimeters might actually make a big difference.