The last two centuries are a time of great achievements in medicine. One of them is the ability to control the reproduction process in humans.
Starting a relationship or simply enjoying sex without worrying about an unplanned pregnancy is the goal for people not wanting to have children. Most people like condoms that fit them, make them comfortable and provide a high level of protection against sexually transmitted infections.
Manufacturers offer a variety of options, and doctors insist on using condoms to reduce the risk of diseases and viruses. Shopping for latex condoms is easy because of their availability in both online and brick and mortar stores.
However, some people are highly sensitive to the main ingredient of nearly all condoms - natural rubber latex. According to the Journal of Occupational Health’s study, latex allergy affects around 4.3% of the general population and 9.7% of healthcare workers.
In this article, we’ll see what’s the main difference between latex and non-latex condoms and how the different ingredients affect one’s health issues.
What is a Latex Condom?
The latex condom is a type of male condom made from latex, a natural rubber made from Hevea brasiliensis tree sap. The rubber sheath is meant to cover the penis during intercourse to prevent most STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
About 90% of condoms on the market are latex condoms due to the uncomplicated application and wide availability of the material used in production. You can find them in various shapes and sizes, thickness, colors, and flavors. They changed in the last 100 years and are now sold with added spermicidal lubricants which ensure a 99% contraceptive safety.
Although they’re one of the safest forms of contraception and can stretch up to 800%, you have to find the right size for more effectiveness.
Moreover, a part of the population suffers from latex allergies and is unable to use these condoms as a means of contraception. It's why they use non-latex condoms.
What is a Non-Latex Condom?
A non-latex condom is usually made from polyurethane, a type of plastic, or polyisoprene, an ingredient of natural rubber, or lambskin. These types of condoms suit those who suffer from latex allergies, and you can use them with any lubricant.
Sadly, non-latex condoms have more disadvantages in relation to STI resistance and contraceptive protection than the ones made from latex material.
Condom production companies began developing non-latex condoms in the 1990s to offer allergy-free condom options. Today there are several types of male and female non-latex condoms you can find if you have issues with latex versions.
Non-latex condoms conduct more heat, meaning they adjust to your body temperature faster. They are, however, more expensive than latex condoms and can't stretch as much as latex can. The first material, polyurethane, has no smell and has no proteins which cause allergic reactions.
Nonetheless, polyurethane condoms break and slip more easily and stretch far less than polyisoprene condoms.
Polyisoprene condoms, on the other hand, are made from synthetic latex where the allergy-inducing proteins were removed. They stretch almost the same as latex condoms and are more effective than polyurethane with regards to the protection of unwanted pregnancies.
The third type of a non-latex condom is the oldest one out there. It’s a lambskin condom, and it’s been used for centuries. It is made from the intestinal membrane of lambs. It transmits heat better than any other material and can give a natural feel during intercourse.
However, these condoms fail to prevent STIs due to their porous nature. They can stop the sperm from entering the vaginal canal, but the material can’t keep out fluids with sexually-transmitted infections out of the way.
What’s more, lambskin condoms are the most expensive from the bunch, and they usually have a unique smell which most people dislike.
So, you should use the latter non-latex type exclusively if you’re in a monogamous relationship, with a partner whose sexual health you’re familiar with, and in case you don't mind the sharp smell of the product.
How to Find Out if You’re Allergic to Latex
As we already discussed in our previous article, the first symptoms of latex condom allergy include uncomfortable response on the skin, such as redness, swelling, hives, rash or itching in both women and men.
If you experience similar symptoms, make sure to remove the condom and visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
(We are not providing medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult with a licensed healthcare professional if experiencing any related symptoms).
Which Type of Condoms to Choose?
Latex condoms seem like the first choice due to the amount produced and the small percentage of people who use the non-latex version. It is the best option to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. Still, you might find out you’re sensitive or allergic to latex and have to start buying polyurethane, polyisoprene or lambskin condoms.
In that case, check what’s the difference between latex and non-latex condoms. Moreover, find which of the non-latex options suit you and your partner to start enjoying your sex life more.