What Are The Side Effects Of Condoms?

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What Are The Side Effects Of Condoms?

Don't ditch the condom during intercourse for fear of its side effects. Barring a latex allergy, there are no known side effects of female or male condoms. If you're sensitive to latex, use condoms made of polyurethane or nitrile to eliminate any irritation, burning, or other allergic reactions. Avoid spermicides like nonoxynol-9 which may trigger yeast infections, but don't expose yourself to the risk of HIV or sexually transmitted infections by not using condoms.

Condoms are a widely available method of contraception that don’t just reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies but also help lower the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, condoms are hard to compete with when it comes to contraception. Still, some people believe that female or male condom usage could come with its own side effects.

There Are No Side Effects Of Condoms

If you’ve been avoiding using male or female condoms as a method of contraception because you’re worried it may cause a reaction in either you or your partner, take heart – any reactions a person may have to a condom do not qualify as side effects of condoms. Rather, they are caused by an allergy.

But Latex Condoms May Trigger Allergies

Health authorities across the board have concluded that male condoms and female condoms have no side effects at all, aside from allergic reactions in some individuals.1 2 Female condoms, in fact, have a lower chance of causing an allergy than male condoms.3

Most condoms, for both men and women, are made from latex. But if latex doesn’t agree with you, alternative products made from materials like polyurethane and even lambskin are also available. In fact, many newer female condoms are made from materials like polyurethane or nitrile.4

How To Spot A Latex Allergy

Want to know whether you have latex allergy? You may be allergic to avocados – 40% latex allergy victims are allergic to avocados.

Latex allergies can actually be quite serious – so much so that if you’re having a strong reaction from latex, you may need emergency medical care. You will typically see these symptoms emerge almost immediately, within a few minutes of coming into contact with the latex condom:

  • Itchiness and irritation of the skin
  • Hives, rash, and swelling of the skin
  • Redness of the area that came in contact with latex
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

Red Flag: Severe breathing difficulties – with or without shock and a drop in blood pressure – are signs of anaphylaxis, a very severe allergic reaction that requires urgent medical intervention.5

Spermicides Cause Itching, Burning, And Redness

If you are using a spermicide to increase your protection against pregnancy, you may need to check your sensitivity to any chemicals in it. Often, any side effects are a result of the spermicide and not the condom itself.

So, how can you spot the culprit? If you’re experiencing symptoms of an allergy but are not allergic to latex or are using a latex-free condom, you could blame the spermicide.

The most common reaction is a general burning sensation in the area that came in contact with the spermicidal lubricant; you may also experience itchiness or redness.6

Spermicidal Condoms Could Trigger Yeast Infections

Yeast infections could be a side effect for women if the condom is lubricated with nonoxynol-9, a spermicide. Some feel that nonoxynol-9 could help kill the HIV virus, but this claim remains largely unproven. It is perhaps best to simply switch to a brand or type of condom that doesn’t have this offending substance.7

Incorrect Usage Increases Your Risk Of Pregnancy

Of course, a major unwanted side effect of incorrect condom usage is pregnancy. It’s important to understand how to wear the condom correctly and how to properly withdraw and dispose of it to avoid increasing your risk of pregnancy.8

This may seem obvious, but the way most people use condoms leads to a failure rate as high as 14 to 15%. When used properly, this risk drops to under 5%. Incorrect usage of a female condom results in a failure rate of 21% overall. However, if used correctly, female condoms are actually less likely to break than male condoms.9

Point to remember: Both male and female condoms are for one-time use only.

How To Use A Male Condom Correctly

Here’s how to wear a male condom the right way.10

  • Unpack the condom and place it on the head of the erect penis. Remember to pull back foreskin if you’re not circumcised.
  • Take care to pinch any air in the tip of the condom out.
  • Now unroll the condom to its full length so it goes to the end of the penis.
  • When you pull out after intercourse, always hold the base of the condom before you start to pull out so there are no mishaps or leakage by accident.
  • Immediately dispose of the condom in the trash.

How To Use A Female Condom Correctly

For a female condom to function properly, here is how you should wear it.11

  • Unpack the female condom. The thick inner ring that’s closed is meant to be in your vagina while the open end covers the vaginal opening and remains outside your body.
  • Squeeze the inner ring together at the closed end with your forefinger and thumb and insert as you would a tampon.
  • Now use your finger to guide the inner ring up and inward so it can rest near your cervix.
  • Ensure the outer ring stays outside your body throughout intercourse.
  • Help your partner enter the vagina carefully without dislodging the female condom.
  • Ensure the penis doesn’t go between the walls of the vagina and the condom by accident. Should this happen, stop intercourse right away.
  • When you need to remove the female condom, twist the outer ring gently and pull it out.
  • Dispose of it immediately.

Other Options For Contraception

While alternatives to latex condoms are available, the US Food and Drug Administration suggests using polyurethane or “plastic” condoms only if latex cannot be used. Female condoms made from nitrile, a newer development, can work for those with latex allergies.12

While lambskin and other animal-skin-based condoms can lower the risk of unwanted pregnancy, they cannot help prevent transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is because the pores in them allow the STI viruses to pass through.13

If you are in a faithful monogamous relationship and there’s zero risk of contracting STIs, explore other modes of contraception. If you simply want to prevent pregnancy, you can consider cervical caps, contraceptive sponges, oral contraceptive pills, contraceptive patches, injectable birth control, vaginal rings, IUDs, or sterilization – a more permanent option.14

References   [ + ]

1.Male Condom. American Pregnancy Association.
2, 3, 4.Female Condom. American Pregnancy Association.
5.Latex Allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
6.Spermicide. American Pregnancy Association.
7.Causes of Yeast Infections. Michigan State University.
8.Male Condom. American Pregnancy Association.
9.Female Condom. American Pregnancy Association.
10.Male Condom Use. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
11.Female Condom Use. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
12.Female Condoms. The Center for Young Women’s Health.
13.Myths and facts about… Male Condoms. International Planned Parenthood Federation.
14.What are the different types of contraception? Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health And Human Development.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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