There’s nothing quite like an allergic reaction to kill the moment in the bedroom. Around 4 out of 100 people have a latex allergy, so it may be more common than you think.1 The symptoms and severity of a latex condom allergy can vary, so if you suspect you or your partner may have such an allergy, it’s worth getting clued up on what that can mean for your sex lives. Plus, the signs you’re allergic to latex condoms can look similar to other skin conditions.2 So, if you’re unsure or worried, see your healthcare professional for advice.
With this in mind, let’s enter the world of latex condom allergy, taking a close look at the signs and symptoms. If you’ve already got a confirmed latex condom allergy, then stick around as we run through some great non-latex condom alternatives.
Am i allergic to latex condoms?
It’s a common misconception that you shouldn’t worry about latex condom allergy if you’ve used them successfully in the past. Most of the time a latex allergy, and by extension a latex condom allergy, develops after previous exposure to latex.1
So, if you find yourself unwell after sex and you are presenting with some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction, just because you have used a latex condom in the past, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a new latex allergy.
What are the symptoms of latex condom allergy?
Because latex condom allergy symptoms are fairly similar to standard symptoms you would get with an allergic reaction2, you may be wondering: How do I know if I am allergic to latex condoms? An allergic reaction to a condom can be distressful because the symptoms will likely manifest around the genital area where contact with the condom was most prevalent.
The most common symptoms of a latex allergy can include the following:2
- Redness and swelling
- Itching skin or eyes
- Crusty skin lesions
- Runny nose or sneezing
- Chest tightness
- Breathing difficulty
- Drop in blood pressure
A latex allergy can also lead to a skin condition called ‘allergic contact dermatitis’ which presents as a rash and can even lead to blistering that weeps.2 In extreme cases, a condom allergy may result in anaphylaxis which will require urgent medical care.2
How long does an allergic reaction to condoms last?
The Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy note that symptoms of a latex allergy can present immediately after exposure to hours or days later, and that contact with latex is not necessarily required to trigger the reaction.3 How long condom allergy symptoms last will likely depend on the severity of the allergic reaction.
It’s important to remember that if you have a suspected latex allergy, regardless of how severe your symptoms are, you should seek advice from a medical practitioner. Not only could mild symptoms become worse if left alone,2 your GP could assist in the diagnosis of latex allergy and advise on how to best manage the allergy in the home.
How to manage latex condom allergy
There is no cure, so the main way to manage latex allergy and latex condom allergy is avoidance.2,3 If you suspect you may have such an allergy, or it has been confirmed by a medical professional, then avoid contact with latex.2,3 This applies doubly for latex condom usage, the last thing you want is a nasty rash or blistering around your genital area.2,3
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to latex, then your GP may prescribe you rescue medication should you ever find yourself experiencing such symptoms again in the future.2
If your skin is feeling irritated and developing crusty lesions, don’t delay getting that checked by a doctor. Without intervention, some people will progress to developing latex allergy – which can cause issues outside the bedroom too. Some people with latex allergy end up with allergic reactions to some foods that trigger a reaction.2
If you are experiencing discomfort during sex and/or have any of the allergic symptoms mentioned earlier, and you think the condom may be responsible, you should stop having sex and remove the condom immediately. As inconvenient and disappointing as it is to stop sex midway through a session, by removing the source of the irritant, you are reducing your exposure time and see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may do some allergy testing to help confirm or exclude latex as the cause. If you do need to remove the condom, remember that while there may be other forms of contraception, condoms provide a barrier against sexually transmitted infections.2 The good news is, there are latex-free options available. More on that down below.
How to prevent latex allergy?
Unfortunately, because there is no cure for latex condom allergy, once you’re primed the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid exposure to latex. The great news is that when it comes to condoms, there are latex-free options that have you covered. But that won’t help you when it comes to avoiding latex triggers in foods like avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwifruit, passionfruit, plum, strawberry and tomato. Not to mention other manufactured goods that may be made from or processed with latex-containing items. So you will need to keep a close eye out on what your skin comes into contact with and what you put into your body once you know you have a latex allergy.2
Latex condom alternatives
Do you have a latex condom allergy? Or suspect you may have one? There are loads of great latex condom alternatives that you can use to ensure you avoid contact with latex whilst remaining just as safe during sex. At least that’s one space you can make latex-free and still have fun.
Why not try our phenomenal Real Feel Condoms? Designed to feel like a natural skin-on-skin feeling and made with a technologically advanced formula, Durex Real Feel will help keep you protected whilst removing latex from the equation.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Remember no method of contraception works 100% against pregnancy, HIV or sexually transmitted infections.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use.
- Wu M, et al. J Occup Health 2016;58:138-144.
- Better Health Channel. Latex allergy. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/latex-allergy (accessed 13 October 2022).
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Latex allergy. Available at: https://www.allergy.org.au/images/pcc/ASCIA_PCC_Latex_allergy_2019.pdf (accessed 13 October 2022).