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Latex Allergy and Condoms

Latex allergies are surprisingly common. If you suspect that you could be allergic to latex, it’s important to not only recognize the warning signs of an allergy but to also consult your OBGYN to discuss other options. From condoms to disposable gloves, there are many everyday and frequently used products that could cause irritation and other issues if you are allergic. Here’s what you should know about latex allergies,

What is latex?

Latex is a rubbery material that is found in the bark of a rubber tree. Even though latex might seem man-made it is actually made from nature. Since latex is derived from trees, this also increases the risk for an allergy.

What products contain latex?

Latex is found in quite a few household items including,

  • Gloves
  • Condoms
  • Balloons
  • Rubber bands

What are the signs of a latex allergy?

If you have a latex allergy you may be likely to develop symptoms that impact the nose, throat, ears, stomach, and skin. If you have an allergy to latex and you use latex condoms, you may notice itching, redness, or a rash in the vaginal region. Those with more severe latex allergies may also experience,

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing

It’s important to recognize warning signs of a severe latex allergy, also known as anaphylaxis, which can be dangerous and life-threatening if not promptly treated. Signs of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, swelling, hives, wheezing, fainting, dizziness, weak pulse, and a drop in blood pressure.

How is a latex allergy treated?

Since there is no cure for latex allergy, the best thing you can do is avoid anything that contains latex including condoms. There are many non-latex condoms on the market these days but if you aren’t sure which ones are safe, simply ask your gynecologist.

However, if you do accidentally use a latex condom your gynecologist may recommend taking an antihistamine or corticosteroids or carrying an EpiPen in case of a severe latex allergy. If you are experiencing a reaction to a latex condom you may also want to relax in a sitz bath or apply hydrocortisone cream to the area to ease discomfort.

If this is your first time experiencing vaginal redness, swelling, or a rash it’s important to have these symptoms properly evaluated by a gynecologist to determine if it’s an allergy and to rule out STIs or other problems.

Even with a latex allergy, there are a variety of safe sex options that do not involve latex condoms. If you have questions about how to practice safe sex with a latex allergy your OBGYN can provide you with all the information you need to make smart choices for you and your partner.

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