Allergic to Latex Condoms
While very few people are actually allergic to latex, where using the
material can induce anaphylactic shock, many have sensitivities to
it. When exposure is either repeated or prolonged, the reactions to
the offending substance can intensify. Symptoms of a latex allergy
can include itching, dryness, a rash, and shortness of breath,
although welts and eczema have also been reported.
However, if a woman experiences these symptoms and suspects
that she may have a latex allergy, she should double check to be
sure that she isn't allergic to her spermicide or lubricant instead.
This can be done by experimenting with different condom or
lubricant brands. She may also try a more direct approach by
wearing a latex glove for a while to see if she develops any of the
same signs of irritation on her hand.
Women with an allergy shouldn't sweat it, since finding alternatives
to latex condoms is a breeze. In addition to the latex standard, both
natural skin and polyurethane condoms are also readily available.
Be forewarned, though - if STD and HIV transmission is a concern,
skin condoms should be avoided, since their pores are large
enough to allow viruses and bacteria through.
Another option is to double up on protection - using a latex and a
skin condom together in order to nix the disease transmission
issue. Depending on which partner is allergic, the latex condom
may either be worn as the first or second layer. Of course, there is
concern that using two condoms together may provide even less
protection than one flying solo, since the condoms have a much
greater tendency to slip or tear because of friction. This game plan
really ought to be weighed carefully and used cautiously.
Polyurethane condoms aren't perfect, either. In a study published in
March, most males found that the polyurethane condoms
increased their sensitivity. These condoms have also been found
to prevent virus transmission as effectively as latex. While that's
great, latex condoms still offer a lower rate of breaking or slipping
during sex compared to their plastic counterparts. While latex
condoms broke only 1.1% of the time, polyurethane breakage
rates soared up to 7.2%; similarly, the polyurethane sheaths
slipped off six times as often.