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.

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