Are Ribbed Condoms Worth It? An Experiment

CDC Tweet Reminder Not Reuse Condoms



I got the idea for this piece somewhere in between shopping for Easter candy and waiting for a prescription refill at CVS. I was traipsing through the aisles of my local store when I stumbled on it: the condom aisle.

I’ve had a boyfriend and an IUD for a while, so I had not ventured into this particular place for a long time. But shit has gotten COMPLICATED since I last had to buy barrier contraceptives:

My old stand-by, the Trojan-Enz spermicidal lubricant in the light blue pack, was still there, but he’d brought a veritable army of other condoms with him. And most of them seemed to be some variation of… ribbed?

Really, ribbed? WTF, CVS? Is there really that much of a demand for that weird shit? Do they really make that much of a difference?!

If you’re banging, you know condoms are a necessary evil (use them or get herpes!). And I imagine there are many of you who been suckered into ponying up for the ribbed stuff in the hopes that it’ll send your girl into mind-blowing orgasms the likes of which she’s never previously known.

So, are those orgasms even possible? Right then and there, I decided to find out. I grabbed the 12-condom version of Trojan’s “Pleasure Pack,” which contains four different varieties of ribbed condoms, and headed to the checkout counter.

My boyfriend was not exactly what you’d call thrilled when I pulled out a box of ribbed condoms and announced we’d be “working” our way through it—for science! – but he agreed to sacrifice his body for this experiment anyway.

So for starters, you should know the Pleasure Pack includes:

Twisted: “Designed with deep ribs to help stimulate both partners in their most sensitive areas.”

Sensations: “Ribbed and contoured for extra enjoyment and stimulation.”

Intense: “Features deep ribs along the condom & UltraSmooth™ Premium Lubricant for comfort and sensitivity.”

Warming: “Warm Sensations Lubricant helps enhance sensual pleasure for both partners.”

For a pack of 36 condoms, it’s approximately $28 to buy the Pleasure Pack, versus about $23.50 for the standard Trojan-Enz, making the ribbed kind about 13 cents per condom more expensive—more expensive, sure, but not cost prohibitive. It should be noted also that all of these condoms are available for purchase in their own packs.

So after doing the math, it was time to get down to business. Once my boyfriend assured me we didn’t need a safe word (“But what if we want to stop?” “Just fucking say ‘stop.’”), we decided to start at the top of the list and work our way down

True story: It’s really fucking awkward to go back to using condoms when you’ve been barebacking it for over a year. If you ever find yourself back on the market after a long relationship, I suggest you practice putting them on at home so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of the new girl you’re about to bang.

Anyway, out of the entire box, the Twisted one was the biggest rip-off known to man. “Deep ribs,” my ass—the ribs were swirled around the condom and I could barely feel them even when I ran my finger directly over them, let alone when they were inside me. LAME.

We ripped that one off and proceeded to the Sensations. The ribs are definitely more pronounced, so when I saw them I was optimistic. But once I lowered myself down onto my boyfriend, the condom still sowed disappointment. “This one’s a little better, I guess,” I said between thrusts. “But… not really.”

The Intense had even more ribs than the Sensations, but yet, I didn’t get much of anything from it, either.

At that point, my boyfriend came, so we tabled the Warming condom for later review. But I couldn’t help but feel extremely disappointed. Would any of these things make me feel something other than just, you know, gettin’ banged?

The Warming condom continued to stay sheathed for a few days while we went back to having sex like normal.

But this BroBible piece was due on Monday, and deadlines wait for no man. I heroically decided to fuck my boyfriend with a condom one last time.

I could feel the heat of the warming lube radiating off the condom as I rolled it down my boyfriend. I put myself into position, and we began doing it.

Maybe it was the warming lube, maybe it was the fact that we’d already banged hard once that day and I was a little sore… but HOLY HELL— once that warming lube got all up in my nooks and crannies, I was on FUCKING FIRE.

“Oh god, it burns, it burns! I have to stop! I have to clean this out of me!” I told my boyfriend.

I was down for the count. I tried to give my boyfriend a handjob as a consolation prize, but after a while he told me to stop. It was clear my heart just wasn’t in it. (Can you blame me? My lady parts had just been pan-seared!)

My experience with these fancy condoms was bad, but in the effort of true journalism, I did a (non-scientific) survey of women to see if they’d had a different fate. In truth, it came down about 50-50 between women who loved ribbed condoms and women who, like me, couldn’t feel a difference.

And for the record, what did my boyfriend feel? “I felt like I was having sex with a condom on,” he said. “It sucked.”

In the end, the ribbed condoms are a negligible amount more expensive, and about 50 percent of women think they’re the cat’s pajamas. So if you’re in the condom aisle, what should you ultimately choose?

Here’s my advice: Get the no-frills condoms. The guy who buys the Trojan-Enz is the guy who shows up at the party with a 24-pack of Miller Lite, versus the Pleasure Pack, which is the guy who shows up with a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The second guy seems like someone fussy who doesn’t know what he’s doing, whereas you KNOW the first guy’s gonna have a good time.

Go have a good time!