How to handle a condom allergy

By Mina Radman • Published: February 6th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Although condoms can protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, they also can be a health concern.

Only 1 percent of the population is allergic to or sensitive to latex. But people who are often exposed to the material have an increased risk of developing the allergy, according to a 2009 study published in the American Family Physician journal. Latex is used to make most mainstream condoms. Many women and men who experience rashes or pain during intercourse may not even realize the culprit is the latex condom.

In honor of National Condom Month, users should know what the signs and symptoms of a latex allergy or sensitivity are. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

As with many allergies, common symptoms including burning and itching and a mild to moderate rash could appear eight hours after intercourse.

Condoms can aggravate urinary tract infections and yeast infections in women with a latex allergy. While an allergy cannot cause an infection and the correlation is rare, women who have recurrent infections may need to be tested for an allergy.

But perhaps the most important thing to remember is to continue to practice safe sex. The threat of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are far too dangerous to take lightly. Luckily, people with a latex allergy or sensitivity have a plethora of other options to stay safe. Polyurethane condoms and animal-skin condoms are available for people who cannot use latex condoms. Polyurethane condoms provide the same degree of protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections as latex condoms, but animal-skin condoms do not protect against them.

If you’re unsure about latex, take the time to investigate whether the material is your friend or foe.