Latex allergy symptoms may range from unpleasant to severe.
Usually, your body feels pretty good (to say the least) after sex. However, this time you notice things are feeling off "down there." You start to feel a discomfort that becomes too difficult to ignore. Finally, you call your ob/gyn and schedule an appointment. After a lengthy discussion, you find out you’re probably allergic to latex condoms. What?
Yes—you can develop a latex allergy later in life. In fact, latex allergies often develop after several exposures to it. If you have used latex condoms many times without problems in the past, don’t rule out a latex allergy just yet.
Signs of a Latex Allergy
Latex is a protein in the sap of Brazilian rubber trees. You can find latex in many everyday products, including condoms. If you’re allergic, exposure to latex condoms (or other latex items) may cause symptoms like:
- Redness and swelling
- Stuffy nose
- Wheezing and chest tightness
Exposure to latex condoms can even cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This causes severe breathing difficulty and a sudden drop in blood pressure, which is potentially fatal.
Alternatives to Latex Condoms
If you have a latex allergy, you and your partner might consider using non-condom contraceptives. For example, there's the Pill, an intrauterine device (IUD), the patch, and so on. Luckily, these methods help prevent pregnancy very effectively.
However, condoms provide the best protection against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). For this reason, experts still recommend using a condom when you’re not in a long-term relationship with a single partner. In fact, you should use a condom even if one of you is on another form of contraceptive.
Thankfully, there are other options to latex condoms for people who have allergies. For example, you could try:
- Polyurethane condoms: These are made out of thin plastic.
- Polyisoprene condoms: They’re made out of synthetic rubber.
- Lambskin condom: They’re made out of lamb intestine (not the skin, as the name suggests). Sure, these sound a little exotic. However, they’re a natural type of condom that humans have used for centuries.
Don’t let a latex allergy stop you from having a healthy sex life. Talk to your doctor about other methods of contraception that are available to you. After all, you deserve to have fun (and be safe) just as much as everyone else.
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- Latex Allergy. Arlington Heights, IL: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (Accessed May 3, 2021).
- What should I do if my partner or I am allergic to latex condoms?. Washington, DC: Planned Parenthood. (Accessed May 3, 2021)
- Latex Allergy. Bethesda, MD: MedlinePlus. (Accessed May 3, 2021)
- Latex Allergy. Leawood, KS: American Academy of Family Physicians. (Accessed May 3, 2021).