Unexplained itching and discomfort after sex could happen to anyone. The most common reason is either an STI or an allergic reaction. You or your partner may be allergic to an ingredient found in condoms or lubricants without knowing it. However, the common allergen is a protein found in natural rubber or latex. Latex condom allergies are the culprits behind uncomfortable sex life of 1 to 6 percent of Americans, of which 8 to 6 percent of health workers.
The number of people sensitive to substances like latex is in steady growth. Some researchers say it’s due to the Western anti-germs hygiene habits, while others claim heavy chemicals used in industry trigger allergic reactions. Whatever the reason is, you should know how to recognize the signs of hypersensitivity to specific products. Especially if it’s your private parts we’re talking about. Here are the first symptoms of latex condom allergy you should identify and treat right away.
How to Recognize Latex Condom Allergy
The majority of latex condom allergies appear only locally. In other words, the signs of a reaction occur in the place where the condom touched the skin. The localized response on the skin includes:
Although most people go through the allergic reaction with a little bit of discomfort and itching, the minority can experience a systemic, or a full-body response. Women are more likely to get this kind of reaction because of the thin membranes of the vagina that absorb proteins faster. The symptoms of a systemic response include:
- Swelling or hives in other areas of the body
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Facial flushing
- Shortness of breath
Anaphylaxis can occur, but extremely rarely. This condition is life-threatening and has a fast onset. The most severe latex allergy symptoms include the symptoms as mentioned above along with difficulty swallowing or breathing, a sudden drop in blood pressure and dizziness or loss of consciousness.
(We are not providing medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult with a licensed healthcare professional if experiencing any related symptoms)
Why Latex Condom Allergies Happen
Allergies happen due to your system’s immune response to an unknown substance. Your body identifies it as harmful and begins to fight it with antibodies, although there’s no real danger. The antibodies trigger the release of histamine, a compound that regulates inflammatory responses, the function of your gut, and acts as a neurotransmitter for vital parts of the body, such as the brain and the spinal cord.
The immune response causes itchiness, redness, rash, and all other symptoms we mentioned. When you are more exposed to latex and latex products, your immune system will fight harder.
Latex allergy will occur either by direct contact or inhalation. The latter implies breathing in latex particles (from latex gloves). Nonetheless, most frequent latex condom allergy symptoms come from direct contact with the condom.
Who Can Get Latex Allergies
As with nearly all medical conditions, specific groups of people are at higher risk of developing latex condom allergies.
- People who are suffering from spina bifida. The condition is a congenital disability that manifests with abnormalities in the spine. Overexposure to latex due to the constant health care makes them hypersensitive to the substance.
- People working in health care or have undergone multiple surgeries. Again, those that are in greater contact with latex increases the chances of developing an allergy to latex condoms later in life.
- People with a family history of diagnosed allergies.
Is There a Connection Between Latex and Food Allergy?
Half of the people who suffer from latex allergies have a food allergy as well. Fruit and vegetable proteins with a similar structure to latex proteins can trigger an allergic reaction. For example, if you’re allergic to bananas, avocados, chestnuts, kiwis, potatoes or passion fruit, you’re at higher risk of having an allergic reaction to latex.
What Can You Do about It
In case you think you have a latex condom allergy, you should consult your doctor. Once diagnosed, you should avoid all latex products. In terms of your sex life, choosing condoms for most pleasure is challenging already. At least now you can rule out latex condoms out of the picture. You can try polyurethane, polyisoprene or lambskin condoms.
- Polyurethane condoms are made from plastic and come in a male and female variety. They are thin, but can’t stretch as much as latex, so you might want to find another type of condoms that will fit.
- Polyisoprene condoms are made from synthetic rubber. It stretches more than polyurethane but is only available for men.
- Lambskin condoms are the most natural condoms you can get. They’re on the market for longer than plastic or latex. However, the porous structure fails to protect from STI’s.
Latex allergies can occur due to the compounds in the spermicide or in the lubricant you’re using. Make sure to choose non-latex products if you know you’re allergic to latex.
Do You Need to See a Doctor?
If you’re suspecting you might have a latex condom allergy and the symptoms persist after more than two days, it’s time to see a doctor. You could potentially develop other infections or dangerous complications if left untreated.
Stay Safe and Read the Labels
Latex condom allergy can bring discomfort into your sex life. Still, an array of non-latex alternatives on the market can make up for your trouble. To be on the safe side, recognize latex allergy symptoms, consult your doctor about it and always read the labels on condoms and personal lubricants.