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Overview
A shopper's guide to sex products
Top condoms
Allergic to latex?
Let's talk about sex

A shopper's guide to sex products

The scoop on everything you'll find on store shelves and more*

Last reviewed: February 2010

Personal lubricants

K-Y Yours + Mine
Personal lubricants

Even if you don't usually have a dryness problem, lubricants are good to keep around. problems might crop up if you're taking an antihistamine for a cold, for example, because those drugs dry out tissues throughout your body. Some of the products you've probably seen advertised lately and might have wondered about include K-Y Yours + mine (sexual lubricants for couples), Intrigue (a long-lasting silicone-based lubricant), and Liquibeads (not made just for sexual encounters, it's an insert containing a vaginal moisturizer that lasts up to four days).

Shopping tip

Consider the type of sensation you prefer. Silicone-based lubricants have a more slippery feel, while water-based ones allow for more friction and are easier to rinse off.

 

Warming agents

Astroglide Warming Liquid
Warming agents

You can buy warming lubricants such as Astroglide Warming Liquid ($6.50 for 2.5 ounces) and K-Y's Sensual Silk Warming ($6.89 for 4.5 ounces), or condoms that contain a warming lubricant, such as Lifestyles Warming pleasure (see next page). most contain glycerine, which releases heat from the body when it comes into contact with moist skin. That mimics the feeling of blood rushing to a certain body part, which is why it can be pleasurable. Some of these products contain menthol, which can create a warming sensation in some people and a cooling feeling in others (no, we're not sure why you'd want that either).

Shopping tip

Warming agents come in many forms: condoms, mists, liquids, and massage products.

 

New kinds of condoms

Trojan Vibrating Ring
New kinds of condoms

The selection goes way beyond ribbed, non-ribbed, latex, and lambskin. Today's condoms have all kinds of bells and whistles (almost literally!)

Climax control

Lined with a numbing lubricant like benzocaine to keep it all from being over too quickly.

Mega/Magnum

Code words for "supersized."

Tingling

Contains menthol, acacia honey, or other ingredients to provide a heating or cooling sensation on contact.

Vibrating ring

A studded silicone ring with a battery inside fits at the base of the condom and promises to deliver pleasurable sensations to both partners.

Shopping tip

If you're shy about standing in the store aisle reading the box, go online to do your research beforehand. The manufacturers' Web sites are fonts of information. Some even have coupons you can print out.

 

Female condom

FC female condom
Female condom

Female condoms have been sold for years but they never really caught on, accounting for just 0.2 percent of all condom use worldwide. The Fc female condom costs about $3 apiece and is sold in drugstores. And there's a new version due out by the end of the year, which should cost close to $2.

Shopping tip

When Fc2 hits store shelves, try the less expensive version first. The female condom is made of polyurethane, so latex allergies shouldn't be an issue. Just be sure to practice using it before a sexual encounter; it takes time to learn to insert it properly.

 

The sponge

Today sponge
The sponge

You may remember the Today contraceptive sponge from years back or from "Seinfeld," when elaine declared a date "spongeworthy." It's now back. The sponge costs about $15 for three and contains nonoxynol-9 spermicide, so it prevents pregnancy non-hormonally, by "deactivating" sperm on contact. but as we said before, the spermicide can cause irritation.

Shopping tip

If you become a sponge user, consider joining the SpongeWorthy club at todaysponge.com for discounts.

 

Plan B One-Step

Plan B One-Step
Plan B One-Step

Condom broke? This one-dose pill can help prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Typically referred to as the "morning after pill," Plan B is what's called emergency contraception. It contains high doses of the hormone levonorgestrel, which is in many birth control pills. If you take it within 72 hours after intercourse—the sooner the better—Plan B can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, stop an egg from being fertilized, or block a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in the uterus. (Unlike the controversial prescription drug ru-486, which many people confuse with Plan B, this over-the-counter medication will not cause expulsion of an implanted fertilized egg.) Plan B costs about $50 and is now sold at drugstores, so you don't have to ask a doctor or clinic for it (as long as you're older than 17).

Shopping tip

Can't find Plan B on the shelf? Ask your pharmacist; it's kept behind the counter.

 

Arousal gel

Utopia female arousal gel
Arousal gel

Think extra stimulation. According to Durex, maker of utopia gel, only 32 percent of women regularly achieve orgasm during intercourse, but 79 percent did while using its product ($15.95 for 0.51 fluid ounces). LifeStyles X2 condoms contain excite arousal gel inside and out ($1 apiece, 12 per box). (We did not test these.)

Shopping tip

Check sex-product labels for an ingredient called L-Arginine. It helps to increase blood flow, which may lead to a more enjoyable sexual encounter when applied to the clitoris. (It's in the Durex utopia.)

 
* We did not test these products in our labs, except condoms.
 

Plain brown wrappers

If you'd rather shop from the privacy of home, you can find condoms and many other sex products at these Web sites:

  • Amazon.com has customer reviews of many products in its Health & personal care section. Go there and click on Sexual Wellness.
  • Condomania.com can suggest products. Try its condom Wizard and Lucy Lube interactive tools.
  • CVS.com has a Sexual Health section, and at drugstore.com, the Sexual Well-being section offers discounts on featured products.
  • Babeland.com and goodvibes.com are women-owned, women-operated sex stores, recommended by “sexpert” Pepper Schwartz.
Posted: February 2010 — Consumer Reports ShopSmart Magazine issue: December 2009