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The Low Down on Condoms
The Low Down on Condoms

The Low Down on Condoms


What's the best condom for you? It depends! Check out some of the basic facts about latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane, nitrile, and lambskin, and what they are compatible (and not compatible) with. Then you can decide, "What is the best condom for me?"





Latex Condoms
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants
- NOT compatible with oils
- Because latex is a plant product some people may develop allergies or sensitivities


The latex in condoms is composed of the sap of the rubber tree, and can contain other substances to soften, stabilize, and/or preserve the condom. Latex is the most common, and usually most inexpensive material for condoms and dental dams.

Latex condoms and dental dams can be damaged by oil. This includes any petroleum product, Vaseline, baby oil, massage oils, and most natural oils (jojoba, coconut, olive, etc).

Because latex is a natural plant substance, some people may develop allergies to latex, and can experience a variety of reactions. Allergies can be triggered by frequent exposure to latex.

Some latex condoms may be processed using casein, a milk product. A certified vegan latex condom is produced by Sir Richard's Condom Company. Polyurethane or nitrile are also vegan-friendly options.


Polyisoprene Condoms
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants
- NOT compatible with any oils
- Synthetic latex, with the proteins that may trigger allergies removed


Polyisoprene is a synthetic latex with most of the same textural properties of natural latex, but without the proteins that act as allergens in natural latex.

It is tensile and flexible like latex, and also tends to be more flexible and less brittle than polyurethane.

Polyisoprene condoms can be damaged by oil. This includes any petroleum product, Vaseline, baby oil, massage oils, and most natural oils (jojoba, coconut, olive, etc).


Polyurethane Condoms
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants, and oils
- Synthetic material suitable for those with latex allergies or sensitivities


Polyurethane is a synthetic version of natural latex, but with none of the allergens. It is generally the same thickness as latex, but transmits body heat better, so can feel more natural.

Both internal (often called female condoms) and external (traditional) condoms may be found in polyurethane.

Polyurethane may not be as tensile or flexible as latex, nitrile, or polyisoprene. Because of this it can slip off, or be more brittle than other condoms. If it breaks the break is usually significant.

Oil based lubricants are compatible with polyurethane (although water or silicone based are recommended), and this condom has a long shelf life.


Nitrile Condoms
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants, and oils
- Synthetic material suitable for those with latex allergies or sensitivities
- Commonly used for internal condoms (female condoms), non-latex gloves, and dental dams


Nitrile is a compound that feels similar to latex, but does not contain the proteins that act as allergens in natural latex. It is thin and flexible, and transmits body heat well.

Although similar in texture and tensile strength to latex, it does not tend to be quite as stretchy.

Nitrile is commonly used for internal condoms (also called female condoms or femi-doms), and non-latex gloves. Internal condoms can be worn for vaginal or anal protection during intercourse.


Lambskin Condoms
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants, and oils
- Natural material made from the cecum of a lamb
- Provides contraceptive protection
- DOES NOT provide STI protection


Lambskin condoms are made from sheep intestine, and the membrane acts as a natural contraceptive barrier. They are not as stretchy as other materials, but safe with oil and water-based lubricants.

Because lambskin condoms are somewhat porous they are not effective at preventing STI transmission. They provide a more natural sensation than other materials, but require more processing and are more expensive than other natural or synthetic condom options.

While they are a useful contraceptive, Lambskin condoms do not protect against HIV or other STIs, like other condoms.

Copyright ScarletGirl.com

Resources:
contraception.about.com, Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC
howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/condom.htm, Tracy V. Wilson
data.unaids.org , pub reference number: IRC-pub01/JC003
who.int, pub reference number: WHO/RHR/13.02


This article was added to our catalog on Wednesday 29 January, 2014.

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