There’s no refuting the fact that sex is great! Whether you’re making love to your wife or having a chance encounter at a local motel, it helps to be safe as there’s always the possibility of diseases being spread through sexual contact. Although there are a number of birth control methods available today, condoms are known to be the most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted infections owing to their effectiveness.
Most condoms are made of latex, which is a flexible, inexpensive material produced naturally from rubber trees. At times, it’s possible to develop allergic reactions to the proteins in latex, resulting in mild to extremely dangerous symptoms. The extent of your reaction depends on your sensitivity to latex. Let’s find out what these symptoms are and how you can effectively tackle a latex condom allergy.
Symptoms Of A Latex Condom Allergy
1. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
If you are mildly allergic to latex condoms, you are likely to have symptoms similar to that of a rash caused by contact, known as allergic contact dermatitis. Extreme sensitivity can result in an allergic reaction in a few minutes, while a reaction otherwise may occur after a few hours.
Allergic contact dermatitis is the result of frequent direct contact with latex condoms, resulting in the following symptoms in the vagina or on the penis during or post use.1
- Hives (red, raised, itchy bumps)
- Scaling (dry and cracked skin with scale-like flakes)
- Skin lesions (abnormal growths on skin)
2. Immediate Allergic Reaction
Also known as a Type I allergy, an immediate allergic reaction is a more serious reaction to latex, leading to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.2 Anaphylaxis begins suddenly and causes your immune system to release chemicals. It then gets worse quickly and may lead to a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Characterized by a sudden drop in your blood pressure, an anaphylactic shock may even cause you to lose consciousness. Before you go into anaphylactic shock, you are likely to experience these symptoms.
- Severe itching
- Stomach pain
- Sudden increase in body temperature
However, as you go into anaphylactic shock, you experience more severe symptoms like these in addition to low blood pressure.3
- Chest tightness
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting
- Slurred speech
Anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock symptoms must be attended to immediately by a medical professional.
Combating A Latex Condom Allergy
If you happen to notice that you are exhibiting the symptoms of a latex condom allergy, see your doctor immediately. He/she will run a few tests and confirm or rule out the allergy. Once confirmed, the best way to avoid having an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen at all costs – which in this case is latex. However, this doesn’t mean that you stop wearing condoms completely. It simply means that you need to look for alternatives made of other materials.
Use synthetic condoms like polyurethane condoms or natural membrane condoms. Although these are more expensive and not as easily available, they will keep you safe from allergic reactions to latex, making the effort worth it. However, be careful while using these as they tend to slip and break more easily than latex condoms.
If you have a latex condom allergy, avoid contact with other household items made of latex too.
You could exhibit latex allergy-like symptoms when you consume foods such as banana, fig, kiwi, peach, grape, celery, papaya, tomato, nectarine, avocado, melon, potato, cherry, rye, strawberry, wheat, plum, chestnut, pineapple, and hazelnut. This happens because the proteins in these foods mimic latex proteins as they break down in your body. While it’s helpful to be aware of the symptoms of a latex condom allergy, it’s always advisable that you seek the help of a qualified medical professional for accurate diagnosis.
|↑1||Turjanmaa, Kristiina, and Timo Reunala. “Condoms as a source of latex allergen and cause of contact urticaria.” Contact Dermatitis 20, no. 5 (1989): 360-364.|
|↑2||Oei, Hong D., Swat B. Tjiook, and Kuo C. Chang. “Anaphylaxis due to latex allergy.” In Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 121-122. OceanSide Publications, Inc, 1992.|
|↑3||Anaphylaxis. NHS Choices.|