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Alternatives to Latex Condoms

When used correctly and consistently, condoms can be an effective method of birth control and provide protection from STIs.

If you or your partner has a latex allergy or sensitivity to latex, rest assured that there are easily available alternatives to latex condoms. Many are equally useful in the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

What is a Latex Allergy?

Latex is a natural rubber that comes from trees.Latex is natural rubber, a product made primarily from the rubber tree. Some people have a reaction to the rubber in latex, which can cause moderate, severe, or even life-threatening reactions.

Allergy to latex is an increasing health problem. In some cases, repeated contact with products containing latex can increase your sensitivity and, with continued use, develop into an allergy.

Symptoms of Latex Allergy

The following are the most common identifiers that you may be sensitive to latex. You’ll find that latex can affect both your skin as well as cause internal respiratory problems.

Below is a list of the most common skin reactions when it comes to latex allergies. These reactions most commonly occur on or near areas that come into direct contact with latex.

  • Hives
  • Burning, itchy rash
  • Contact dermatitis (inflamed or irritated skin)

You may have a latex allergy if you are experiencing any of the following respiratory issues during or after using a latex based condom.

  • Mild to moderate: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes.
  • Severe: shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, severe wheezing, loss of blood pressure, tightening of airways.
  • Life-threatening: anaphylaxis.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms after coming in close contact with latex, contact your doctor to get tested for a latex allergy. Furthermore, if you experience severe or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Alternatives to Latex Condoms

Condoms are one of the most common types of birth control and STI protection on the market.

A condom is a thin sheath that fits over the erect penis. There are currently three types of male condoms available other than the latex variety.

Let’s take a closer look at some of your options to help you determine which will work best for you. Each has advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner to make the right choice for your lifestyle.

Polyurethane Condoms

Polyurethane is a plastic based product that contains no latex.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • Effective in preventing STIs, including HIV, when used correctly.
  • Thinner and sometimes stronger that latex condoms.

Polyisoprene Condoms

Polyisoprene is a newer product made of a non-latex material.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • Statistically effective in preventing STIs, including HIV.
  • Combine the strength of latex with the sensitivity of a thinner condom.

Natural Condoms

Made from the oldest material on the market—the intestinal membrane of a lamb, sometimes known as a lambskin condom.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • NOT effective protection against STIs or HIV, due to tiny pores in the membrane. The pores are small enough to block passage of sperm but will not block transference of STIs or HIV.
  • May not be the right choice for those with animal rights convictions. Not vegan-friendly.
  • May have an odor that some find offensive.

Female condoms are not as popular of choice as traditional condoms. However, you may find that they suit your needs better.

A female condom is a thin plastic pouch that lines the vagina. It is held in place by a closed inner ring, or rim, at the cervix and an outer ring at the opening of the vagina.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control.
  • Some studies suggest that a female condom will work as well as a male condom in preventing STIs, including HIV.
  • May provide some protection of the genital area around the opening of the vagina during intercourse. May reduce the risk of getting and transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts.
  • Can be inserted up to 8 hours before intercourse.
  • Can be a good option for both partners.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous alternatives to latex condoms. All of the varieties we’ve mentioned require no prescription and can be purchased in pharmacies, stores or vending machines.

Many family planning clinics, school nurses, or university health centers will provide condoms, including non-latex condoms, free of charge.

For the best protection against unplanned pregnancy and STIs, use a condom even when using another method of birth control, such as pills or an IUD. Always use a condom when participating in vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.

If you have a latex allergy or sensitivity to latex, make an appointment to discuss your options with your OB/GYN.

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