Are you allergic to condoms? If you were, how would you know? For one percent of the population, this is a real concern, as latex allergy make safe sex a much more complicated process.
What’s more, people who are frequently exposed to the latex in condoms can develop an allergy—even if there were no issues countless times before.
If you’re allergic to condoms, safe sex may seem like an impossibility.
What causes someone to be allergic to condoms?
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, a condom allergy is caused by the protein used to make latex condoms, and latex in general.
Individuals with this issue also are sensitive to products like latex gloves, urinary catheters and syringes. Not surprisingly, it is a common allergy people in the health care field develop.
People with latex allergy may also be sensitive to certain foods which contain a similar protein such as avocados, bananas, tomatoes, kiwi, and chestnuts.
What symptoms appear if you are allergic to condoms?
First, it is important to know if you are allergic to condoms because of the latex or because of another reason. Some condoms contain spermicide, and this can be the cause of an allergic reaction instead of the condom itself.
If you experience symptoms each time during intercourse, try a different brand of condom, one that does not contain the most common spermicide, nonoxynol-9.
MD-Health indicates spermicide allergy is less common than latex allergy, but it can cause similar symptoms and may even cause painful blisters, swelling and abrasions in the genital area.
Fatal reactions to spermicide are rare but do occur.
Once you’ve eliminated other possible causes of irritation, it is time to consider the possibility you are allergic to condoms.
There are two types of latex condom allergies. Type I allergy, which can be life threatening and is known as anaphylaxis, is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure and unconsciousness. The other type of latex allergy is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction or Type IV allergy.
Symptoms of Type IV allergy, also known as a contact allergy, include:
- Skin rash/ hives
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Yeast infections
Most symptoms that are not life-threatening occur within 12 to 24 hours of exposure. Warning signs of a more serious condition, like anaphylaxis, occur more suddenly and include:
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Slurred speech
- Low blood pressure
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
What do you do if you are allergic to condoms?
If you are allergic to condoms it is still possible to practice safe sex.
The University of Florida indicates polyurethane condoms and animal-skin condoms are available for people with latex allergy.
For individuals with multiple partners or with new partners, polyurethane condoms are recommended because they still offer some disease protection.
However, keep in mind that these and animal skin condoms offer no protection from sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
Some individuals may benefit from prescribed medications like corticosteroids, antihistamines, and injections with epinephrine, though these are generally reserved for more serious reactions.