When it comes to allergies, there are a ton of them. People can be allergic to everything from nuts and shellfish to pollen and feathers; I personally am allergic to roaches … go figure. But one allergy you rarely hear of is latex allergies, specifically the latex used in condoms. If you’ve heard of this allergy and thought it was a lie made up by some horndog who just wanted to have sex wrong — it’s not. The number of people who have allergic reactions to latex isn’t astronomically high (around less than one percent to six percent of the U.S. population), but they are definitely out there and living with this issue.

For people with latex allergies, using a condom during sex can may be uncomfortable or — in the most extreme and highly unlikely cases — deadly. Some people with this condition don’t even realize they are having an allergic reaction and often ignore symptoms.

A person with a latex allergy will usually experience mild symptoms. Repeated exposure to latex, however, can lead to a severe and sometimes fatal reaction. Symptoms usually include burning sensations, rashes, itching, blisters, and in serious cases, anaphylaxis — where people experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, rapid heartbeat or chest pain.

So if you’re sexually active and allergic to latex, what can you do?

To begin with, if you think you suffer from latex allergies, you should consult your doctor to be sure and discuss alternate methods of contraception. For example, you can opt for polyurethane condoms, which protect against pregnancy just as well. Brands like Trojan and Lifestyles offer non-latex versions of their condoms, which can be purchased almost anywhere regular condoms are sold.

Some reports show, however, that polyurethane products have higher breakage rates than latex condoms, and therefore, may not be as effective in preventing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, so it is imperative that if you must use polyurethane condoms you do so in conjunction with another barrier method.

Women can opt for a latex-free barrier method called the FemCap to deal with their latex allergies, but again both men and women should consult with their doctors to find the solution that works best for them.

Being allergic to latex can most definitely but a damper on your sex life, but it doesn’t have to grind it to a halt, nor does it mean you have to put your health in danger. There are options out there for latex allergy sufferers and with a little guidance from your doctor you’ll be itch free and back in the sexual saddle in no time!

Do you or anyone you know suffer from latex allergies? What alternative methods do you use?

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