In recent testing of 20 condom brands sold on the U.S. market, all met minimum national and international performance standards, according to Consumer Union, the independent nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
Condoms are usually inflated with 17-18 liters of air in tests for breaking. "All of them test at the standard" despite the variety of styles and brands, said Jamie Hirsh, an associate editor for Consumer Reports Health. Consumer Reports tested the condoms at a higher volume of 25 liters, and even then seven condom types -- including products from Durex, Lifestyles, and Trojan -- never broke in 500-600 tries. All the condoms were also submerged in water to check for leaks.
While all the condoms met regulators' minimum standards, "some of them are even better than fine," in that they met Consumer Report's even "more stringent" tests, Hirsh said. "If you're looking for the strongest, toughest condom, that's what that extra test gives you."
More importantly, Consumer Reports notes that "the most protection comes with using the condom properly," said Eli Coleman, director of the human sexuality program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Common errors in using condoms include tearing them when opening the packaging; not allowing enough air in at the tip to prevent the condom from slipping off; putting them on backwards; not putting them on soon enough; using expired condoms; and not using adequate lubricant, said Coleman.
"These tests show the reliability and integrity of the condoms, but they don't take into account what happens when humans are using them," Coleman said. "Many of these condoms have been improved to enhance pleasure and sensitivity while maintaining the integrity and the reliability of the condom."
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