Men and their partners might suffer an allergic reaction to the materials used in condoms or lubricants and must be careful with the choice of condoms, mostly due to the latex used to make condoms or spermicidal lubricants that kill sperm cells and provide lubrication for intercourse.
Latex allergy can affect people in many aspects of their life. Latex comes from rubber trees, and people use it in a variety of different products, such as gloves, rubber bands, shoes, toys, and more. People who suffer from a latex allergy cannot wear latex gloves and must even be careful around balloons. They must avoid latex condoms, as well.
Upon making contact with the latex, allergy sufferers can experience a wide range of symptoms that range from mild to severe. People with Type I latex allergies can suffer a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis, which consists of a sudden drop in blood pressure resulting in unconsciousness, chest tighteness, breathing trouble, confusion, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, slurred speech, weak pulse, or death. People with Type IV latex allergies suffer a delayed effect due to a hypersensitivity to latex. These people will have to endure a mild to severe rash or case of hives.
In addition to contact, people with a latex allergy must avoid inhalation of latex particles, which can result in itching, cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and more. To deal with all of these symptoms of a latex allergy, people often use over-the-counter remedies such as corticosteroids and antihistamines and prescription-available products such as epinephrine injections.
When people suffer an allergic reaction to condoms, they will often point to the latex but forget that they might actually have an allergic reaction to substances in the lubricants. Many people have an allergy to the chemical nonoxynol-9, which condom manufacturers use to kill sperm cells in their spermicidal lubricants. Many men and women have an allergy to this chemical, which can result in mild rashes or death from anaphylactic shock. Men and women might encounter a genital rash, itching, or irritation. Women might even develop a yeast infection or urinary tract infection.
In addition to these mild symptoms, some people with an allergy to nonoxynol-9 can develop blisters, swelling, and other sores, thus requiring immediate medical attention. In rare cases, people suffer death after exposure to nonoxynol-9 due to anaphylaxis. People that experience dizziness, wheezing, itching, fever, and swelling after exposure to spermicidal lubricants should seek immediate medical attention.
Although rare, the presence of condom allergies means that condom manufacturers have devoted an entire sector of the market to producing and selling condoms to people with these allergies.
In the next post will discuss what are some common hypoallergenic condom options.