Condoms and Vaginal Irritation

Welcome! Today is all about condoms!

I recently realized that there are two potential ways that condoms can cause/contribute to vulval-vaginal irritation. Maybe some of you have already considered this, but maybe many of you haven’t and it’s a topic worth discussing.

The first issue is that condoms are typically made from latex. For most people this isn’t an issue, but for the roughly 3 million people stateside that have a latex allergy this could be a big problem (http://latexallergyresources.org/statistics). Thankfully there are condoms made from polyisoprene and, if you’re a little more adventurous there is lambskin. Some of you are probably thinking that if you’re allergic to latex then it is a no-brainer to not use latex condoms, however latex allergies can occur later in life which is why it is important to be aware of your body and to take note if you start experiencing vaginal irritation. 8-17% of healthcare workers have an allergy to latex and it is theorized that this could be due to the constant exposure to latex e.g. latex gloves. People who use latex condoms frequently are also theorized to be more at risk of a latex allergy. According to WebMD there are 3 main types of negative reactions to latex. Here is the link for those who want to read more in depth http://www.webmd.com/allergies/latex-allergies A mild reaction can involve redness and itching and a severe reaction could result in anaphylaxis. For the purposes of speaking about vaginal irritation in particular, I want to mention the symptoms associated with a mild latex reaction. According to WebMD the most mild latex reaction is “Irritant contact dermatitis . This is the least-threatening type, and it’s not an allergic skin reaction. It usually happens due to repeated exposure to chemicals in latex gloves and leads to dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and skin problems.”

I think being mindful of any irritation possibly due to latex is extremely important, especially for those of us who suffer from Vulvodynia/Vestibulodynia/Interstitial Cystitis. For those of you who don’t have these conditions you should still be mindful of common products that could be causing vaginal irritation, or cause it in the future. In short, if you use latex condoms and start to experience vaginal irritation or MORE vaginal irritation than normal you might want to investigate latex as a potential source of the irritation. Again, the good news is if you think latex could be the culprit you can purchase non-latex condoms that are made of polyisoprene, or lambskin.

The second potential irritant associated with condoms is the lubricant that is used on “pre-lubed” condoms. If you haven’t checked out my spiel’s about what to look for in a quality lubricant that won’t cause vulval-vaginal irritation please take a minute to read here >> https://endogab.com/2015/12/30/to-lube-or-not-to-lube/ and here>> https://endogab.com/2016/03/11/what-do-you-know-about-lubrication/

When buying lubricant it’s really important to make sure that you’re buying a product that is as natural and unladen with chemicals as possible. Likewise, it’s important for us to make sure the condoms we are purchasing aren’t pre-lubed with the chemical laden solutions we’re working hard to avoid. There are many condoms on the market without lubricant and I would highly advise purchasing those over pre-lubed condoms that are filled with nasty things that can cause a whole slew of vulval-vaginal irritation. If anyone knows of a brand of condoms that pre-lubes theirs with a water-based, paraben free, dye free, fragrance/flavour free, glycerin free lube please let me know! On this same token I also want to mention that sometimes condoms have spermicidal lube which can also cause irritation, as well as lube-type solutions to “heighten” or “stimulate” sexual pleasure. The best example of this are Trojan Fire and Ice condoms. Ingredients such as Benzocaine, and Menthol are typically what produce these types of hot and cold sensations and they can wreak havoc on your vagina. It might sound pleasurable in theory, but putting something in/on your hooha that can cause an awful burning sensation and result in redness and irritation isn’t worth it! Futhermore, Trojan won’t release an ingredient list and many people (including women AND men) have complained that the product caused severe irritation to their genitals and that they don’t feel it’s a safe product.

Our vaginas deserve not to be filled with potentially harmful chemicals and I don’t know about all of you, but I’d like to keep mine burn and irritation free. Be mindful of what you put on/in your vagina and use common sense! If any of you have any advice to add in regard to purchasing condoms and any possible irritations they can cause please feel free to comment!

I hope you all have a Happy Halloween! And for those who do not celebrate Halloween I wish you a Happy Harvest! XO

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