H  ere’s something you should know: you’re probably not optimizing your condom use. Condoms are one of the best sex inventions ever created—they’re the only sex tool that protects from unwanted pregnancy and STD/STI transmission, and all for a low, low price. There is just one catch. No one really tells you how to pick out the perfect one. Even if you’ve been using them for a few years, trolling the family planning aisle of your local drug store or hitting up folks for freebies, it’s likely that you weren’t prepped on the ins and outs of making a fully-informed purchase. That ends today.

Here are a few facts and tips on how to choose the right one for you.

All Male Condoms Aren’t Created Equal

Every brand uses a different quality of latex and lubricant (lube). They also come in various sizes, thickness and textures. Some are made thinner (bare skin condoms) to mimic the feeling of sex without a barrier. Others are shaped with a larger head and more narrow shaft to provide more comfort. Some condoms even have ribs in the surface to add sensation to your stroke. Condoms even come in non-latex formulas for those who have a latex sensitivity and certified vegan condoms for those who are hard core plant lovers. Finding the right condom for you and your partner’s comfort will take some experimentation. Grab a three pack to experiment with different kinds before committing to a large purchase.

Size Matters, A Lot

Most condoms are made for the average-sized penis (5-6 inches) and can comfortably accommodate up to 7 inches in length. If you have more girth and length than the average, it’s important that you use large or extra-large options to ensure your comfort and prevent breakage. The same holds true if you know you’re smaller than the standard size. The goal is to be safe. If you try a few brands and still can’t find a good fit,  try making a custom order from places such a Condomania and have them shipped discreetly.

Handling a Little Flavor

Condoms featuring flavors like watermelon or cherry are for novelty and should only be used during oral sex. The coating on these condoms often contains a derivative of sugar, which can causes yeast infections for women. Keeping them away from the vagina increases your future playtime. If you plan on having sex after receiving oral, switch out the flavored condom for a standard.

Keep It Wet

Many condoms come pre-lubricated to reduce friction during penetration. Some lubes have formulas that warm up with each stroke, others create a cooling effect and many use  glycerin. Unfortunately, all of these things may mess up the pH balance of your partner’s vagina. If you aren’t sure how your partner will respond to lubrication skip it all together and buy a water-based lube (uberlube or sliquid are recommended brands) to add with her consent.

The Roll Up

Placing a condom on correctly is necessary for proper use. In the heat of the moment condoms can be flipped to the wrong side making it difficult to roll down. Pay attention during that 30-45 seconds to strap up session. A condom should roll easily onto your penis. If it doesn’t, flip the condom over and try gain.

It’s a Wrap

Just like anything that is manufactured from a natural source (latex is derived from plants,  condoms expire. They have a shelf life of 3-5 years and shouldn’t be used if the packaging looks damaged or fused against the condom itself. Look on the back of the condom box or on the back or edge of the wrapper to look for the date of expiration. Using expired condoms places you at risk for breakage.

Put It On Her

Female condoms look like a larger version of the male condom and have a shelf life of approximately three years. The barrier is inserted into the vagina using a flexible ring located within its latex and provides full coverage for the vulva. Lubricant can be added to increase the glide during penetration. Using a female condom can encourage female partners to take responsibility in providing contraception. Practice with using female condoms is necessary to insure you remain inside of the condom while stroking. You can find them In the family planning aisle along with the male condoms.