August 27th, 2013
Condoms are one of the widely used and effective means of contraception and STD prevention. Condoms are made out of latex or plastic and usually covered with spermicides for a more effective contraceptive activity. While used by many million men, some may experience a more or less severe allergic reaction to condoms which is called condom allergy. In general, there are two main types of condom allergy:
If you are allergic to latex, you are more than likely to experience an allergic reaction when wearing a condom. This allergic reaction is based on the body’s reaction to the particles contained in latex. This type of allergy may show itself as an immediate (type I) allergic reaction that can range from severe skin rashes and hives to more severe and life threatening anaphylactic reactions. The other form of latex condom allergy is the delayed skin reaction (type IV) which is usually milder and expresses itself as skin redness, itching, and hives.
Many types of condoms come with a spermicide coating which serves to add to the protective mechanism. The spermicide works by damaging the sperm and making an unwanted pregnancy not possible. While considered as safe and effective by the FDA, many men and women may experience an allergic reaction to the spermicides contained in condoms causing condom allergy.
Mild spermicide allergic reaction in men may include redness and rash with itching of the genital area. Women may experience the same symptoms in the vagina, but may also suffer from vaginal yeast infection or urinary tract infections triggered by the allergic reaction. If any of the above symptoms occur, the use of condoms with spermicides should be discontinued; the symptoms are then expected to disappear by themselves. Yeast infections or urinary tract infections might need additional medical treatment.
Severe spermicide allergic reactions are rare, but possible. Symptoms of severe spermicide condom allergy may include genital blisters, swelling, painful irritation and abrasions in the vaginal and rectal areas. In case of severe spermicide allergy, immediately stop using the condom and see your doctor for medical treatment.
In rare cases, spermicide condom allergy can be as severe as an anaphylactic reaction with swelling, breathing problems, drop in blood pressure, and anaphylactic shock. In such a case, the use of condom should be stopped immediately and the patient should be brought to the closest emergency room for medical treatment.
If you or your partner are suffering from condom allergy, you can see your doctor for an allergy test to confirm the allergy. Antihistamines can be used for mild to moderate allergic skin reaction, and severe allergic reactions should be treated with epinephrine and immediate medical attention. The best way to prevent condom allergy is to stay away from its use, use spermicide free condoms, or use non-latex condoms. Just be aware of the fact that non-latex condoms might be associated with slippage, leakage, or less STD preventative properties.
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