Q: I’m trying to figure out my condom size and I keep seeing the phrase, “nominal width,” all over everything. What exactly does that mean?
Here at Condom Depot, we don’t really use the phrase nominal width much when talking about condoms. And this is exactly why. Although it is a term that is standard in our line of work, it’s not one that our customers know off-hand. If we do use it in any of our articles, we define it.
When you hear the word nominal, you think, “small.” So, it would reasonable make sense that nominal width is the smallest width of a condom, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Nominal width is the measurement of the condom at the base or ring, when it is laid flat. The base isn’t always the smallest part, but a lot of times it is (like the Trojan Ecstasy condoms), so that’s probably where it gets its name. Still, because of the elasticity of the band, the base is the part that often feels the tightest for many.
Penises tend to be thicker close to the base than the head, so knowing if a condom is going to fit you at your thickest girth is very important. The majority of discomfort we hear listed from wearing a condom comes from wearing one that is too tight in the elastic band. If the nominal width is too small, it’s going to be uncomfortable. If it’s too big, the condom is going to fall off a heck of a lot easier. It’s difficult to reconcile a part of the condom that is often the tightest being put on the of the penis that is often the thickest.
There’s a difference between measuring for nominal width and measuring for diameter. When you lie a condom flat, the width is going to be longer than if you’re measuring for diameter– because the diameter doesn’t lie flat. Instead of multiplying by pi, you should be multiplying by two.
Condom Depot’s Size Measurements
In Condom Depot’s measurements, we try to list the condom’s measurements at both the head and the base, instead of just using nominal width. This is because not only can these widths vary in condom size, but they can also vary based upon penises. We also tend to use the word width instead of nominal width. This is because we find that that language is more intuitive for those who aren’t in the condom business– which is the majority of you guys out there. If you just saw nominal width, you’d think we meant the smallest part of the condom only, unless you knew exactly what we were talking about.
Of course, there are many other factors that go into whether or not a condom is comfortable: the amount of lube and where it’s added (like Beyond Seven Aloe), whether there is a contoured head (like Trojan’s Her Pleasure Ecstasy), the material it’s made from (like with Trojan’s NaturaLambs), or a reservoir tip (like with Crown’s Skinless Skin), if it’s ribbed (like Lifestyles KYNG Ribbed), the thickness of the latex (like our Kimono MicroThins) or even if it’s flat our big enough (like our widest condoms, the Trojan Magnum XL). Chances are, if you find condoms to be uncomfortable, it could be because the nominal width doesn’t fit, or it could be any number of reasons. The best way to find your perfect condom? Try a sampler pack.