Condoms are one of the most commonly used contraceptive methods. Condoms are also a great way of protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These contraceptive means are made out of plastic or latex. Even though condoms are safe and used by most of the men worldwide, some men or women may experience allergic reactions to condom. This is known as condom allergy.
What Causes Allergic Reaction to Condom?
In most cases, the cause is latex. If a person is allergic to latex, there is a great probability of having an allergy to a latex condom as well. The body reacts to the particles which normally latex contains. Even though the real cause of latex allergy is not known, it has been estimated that a repeated exposure to latex and other rubber products leads to an allergy.
There is also the possibility of being allergic to other compounds of a condom such as spermicide. Sometimes, it is also possible to experience an irritation due to an insufficient wetness of the vagina during sexual intercourse. Perfumed soaps can also be the culprits. Whenever you think that you experience an allergic reaction due to condoms, observe the signs and symptoms carefully and get an allergic test.
What Are the Symptoms If You Are Allergic to Latex?
Various signs and symptoms are possible in cases of an allergic reaction to latex condoms. In mild cases, the following signs are possible: itching of the vagina or the penis, red skin, hives, or rash. This type of allergic reaction usually occurs within 12 to 36 hours after a contact with a latex condom. These symptoms can be annoying but are not life-threatening.
Immediate allergic reaction to condoms occurs in cases when a person was previously exposed to latex and has already been sensitized. A re-exposure to latex leads to an immediate allergic reaction which is characterized by the following symptoms:
- A runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy throat, etc.
In severe cases, even an anaphylactic reaction to a latex condom exposure can occur, which needs immediate medical help. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
- Redness of the skin which tends to get generalized
- Stomach cramping
- Chest tightness
- Difficulties breathing
- Faster heartbeat, etc.
In cases when you think or suspect that you are allergic to latex, seek medical help and visit an allergist or immunologist. In the meantime, avoid any contact with latex condoms. Blood tests as well as allergy skin tests can help your doctor determine if you are allergic to latex and any other agents that trigger a reaction of the immune system.
What Can You Do About the Problem?
Once a latex allergy is determined, it is important to prevent further exposure to latex in the future to avoid allergic reaction to condom. You can consider using other types of condoms, such as:
1. Polyurethane Condom
These polyurethane condoms, when compared to latex condoms, are stronger, thinner, and less constrictive and are better heat transmitters. However, the problem with polyurethane condoms is that they can slip off or even break and we all know that no one wants this to happen.
2. Lambskin Condom
Another alternative to latex condom is lambskin condom. The problem with these lambskin condoms is that they are slightly porous and don’t offer proper protection against STDs. Lambskin condoms should be used only with safe and secure partners who you know that are healthy and not suffering from an STD.
Tactylon is another option to substitute latex condoms. It is also a great contraceptive option. However, when using these condoms, make sure that they do not contain spermicide as they can also cause allergy.
4. Polyisoprene Condom
Polyisoprene condoms are new condoms available on the market. These condoms are made out of a synthetic latex material; they are as resistant as latex condoms, but won't cause allergic reaction. One thing to have in mind is that polyisoprene condoms should not be used with oil-based lubricants. However, they can be safely used with water-based or silicone-based lubricants.
FC2, commonly known as the female condom, is a great contraceptive method as well. This condom is inserted into the female vagina just before having sexual intercourse. It is a flexible, thin and strong nitrile sheath with a polyurethane ring and a soft nitrile ring on the other end. FC2 is latex-free and safe to use for people who are allergic to latex. FC2 also contains a slick silicone-based lubricant, but additional lubricant can be used as well.
More Home Items to Avoid to Prevent Latex Allergy
Avoiding allergic reaction to condom is just one thing. Once an allergic reaction to latex condoms occurs, you should be aware of other items found at home which can contain latex in order to prevent latex allergy. At-home items which can contain latex include:
- Latex gloves
- Rubber bands
- Carpet backing
- Baby pacifiers
- Baby-bottle nipples
- Sanitary napkins
- Bandages, etc.
Other items at home not listed here can contain latex as well. There is also the possibility of developing an allergic reaction to certain types of food as they contain the same protein found in latex. These foods include chestnuts, banana, avocado, etc. Other foods also linked with a latex allergy include melons, celery, peaches, kiwi, apples, carrots, figs, potatoes, tomatoes, papaya, etc.