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Condom or Lube Allergy?

Condom or Lube Allergy? Follow this guide to find out what you’re sensitive to, and which products are right for you!

Do you think you might be allergic to condoms, or the lubricant that is on them, or both? How do you know for sure? What are your options to protect yourself from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) if you have condom or lubricant sensitivities?

Do you experience itching, burning, redness, or hives on/around your mouth or genitals during/after sex with condoms and lubricant? First make sure these symptoms are not caused by an STI or a yeast infection. Check with your doctor or sexual health clinic. If you have eliminated these possibilities, it is possible you are having a reaction to the materials in condoms or the ingredients in lubricants. Now your challenge is to find out exactly what you might be having a reaction to. 

All condoms are not the same – they all contain different materials and are lubricated with different types of lubricants.  This is good news - just because you reacted to one type of condom does not mean you will experience a reaction to all condoms and all lubricants. You must use the scientific process of testing and evaluation to discover which products you can and can’t use. You must eliminate each possibility of sensitivity. Does that sound like a lot of work? It doesn’t have to be – just follow this list - and remember it’s your sexual health and reproductive planning options on the line. Do your homework! A little bit of planning and testing now will make sure you can have a comfortable, protected sex life.

Latex Condoms & Sensitivities

Are you allergic to latex or something else, like glove powders or lubricant ingredients?

Many people believe they are allergic to latex because they have had an itchy, burning reaction on the penis or vagina when they used a latex condom. However, if this happened to you 5 or more years ago, it’s possible that you were reacting to the potentially irritating spermicide nonoxynol-9 which used to be found in the lubricants applied to packaged condoms.  It is estimated that less than 10% of North Americans have a latex allergy, but a significant number have also had an irritated reaction to nonoxynol-9. Some women found they had micro-tears in the vagina after repeated use of nonoxynol-9 contraceptive products (view the World Health Organization 2000 study in Africa), and occasionally both male and female partners have experienced genital itching and burning.

 Do you experience itching and hives when wearing latex gloves? Again, it is important to realize that some people who experience this reaction are reacting to the powders used inside the gloves and not the latex itself. It is possible you may be able to use latex condoms without irritation as they do not contain the same type of powder.

Another possible reason for an irritated, itching, burning sensation is one of the other ingredients in the lubrication on the condom.  Even if your latex condom’s lubricant did not contain nonoxynol-9, it could have contained other ingredients like glycerin(e), methylparaben or propylparaben (common preservatives), or a warming, “stimulating or tingling” or cooling ingredient. Citric Acid, acai honey, menthol, and other ingredients used in warming or tingling gels sometimes cause people to experience a painful irritated burn rather than a warm tingle. Positive Passions carries several brands of lubricants that are glycerin(e) and methylparaben free because so many people, especially women, find those ingredients itching or irritating (redness, rash). You could be reacting to the lubricant on the condom instead of the condom itself.

Finally, as noted above, it is possible to have an allergy to the natural rubber latex used in condoms, gloves, and other products. Symptoms of a latex allergy range from itching, burning, and hives to more severe reactions such as runny nose, shortness of breath, and anaphylactic shock. Learn more about actual latex sensitivities and allergies here at the MayoClinic, and read down further in this article to see options.

Testing for Sensitivities

While you could try different condoms and lube during sex, why risk interrupting sexy fun times with a sensitivity or reaction? Try things out all by yourself first. Try putting the condom or lube you are trying on a sex toy and masturbating with it to see if you have a reaction, or rub a condom on your penis or vulva for a couple of minutes to see if you have sensitivities. Obviously, don’t do this with latex condoms if a doctor has told you that you have or are at risk of having a serious latex allergy.   If you find a condom or lubricant that works for you by yourself, you will be confident using it with a partner and be able to fully enjoy the experience.

Trying Latex Condoms & Dams:

-          Try lubricated latex condoms & dams which do not contain nonoxynol-9 in the lubricant – there are many brands. Positive Passions carries Durex Love condoms, which are lubricated latex with no nonoxynol-9.  Kimono Micro-Thin condoms are another choice Positive Passions carries.

-          Try lubricated latex condoms which do not advertise or contain warming, tingling, or stimulating ingredients. Again, Durex Love and Kimono Micro-Thins are great options.

-          Try “dry,” non-lubricated latex condoms and lubricate them yourself with a gentle, non-irritating water-based or silicone based lubricant. Positive Passions carries Hardcover Dry condoms, and we suggest lubricating them with the water-based lubricants Waterslide, Sliquid original, O My natural, or the silicone lubricants, Sliquid Silver or Jo Premium. Try lubricants with the fewest possible ingredients – there are less ingredients for you to have a reaction to!  We suggest Waterslide, which only has 3 natural ingredients. For dams, try Glyde Sheer dental dams carried by Positive Passions.


Trying Latex-Free Condoms & Dams:

-           Try condoms that are latex-free like polyisoprene or polyurethane. Polyisoprene condoms are cheaper and more readily available than polyurethane, and will protect against STIs as well as unplanned pregnancies. Lamb skin condoms, made from animal membrane, contain no latex but they do not protect against STIs (the membrane is slightly porous). Positive Passions carries Durex Avanti brand polyisoprene condoms, and FC1 Female Condom, which is polyurethane. (Note that the FC1 Female Condom is lubricated with a water-based lubricant which contains glycerine and parabens.)

-          For a latex-free, STI-protecting dam, try Hot Dam brand polyurethane dams (available at online stores) or cut a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom in half length-wise.

-          Try these condoms & dams in combination with extra lubricant like the water-based lubricants Waterslide, Sliquid original, O My natural, or the silicone lubricants, Sliquid Silver or Jo Premium. Try lubricants with the fewest possible ingredients – there are less ingredients for you to have a reaction to!  We suggest Waterslide, which only has 3 natural ingredients. If using a dam, don’t use silicone lube on the side of the person who is doing the licking. It doesn’t taste good!

Trying Lubricants:

-          Try the lubricants suggested above by purchasing sample or travel-sized packages and apply them to your penis or vulva during a non-sexual time. Wait a couple of minutes to see if you have a reaction. Once you find something that works, stock up on it with a full sized bottle. Then you’ll know what works and have it on hand when it’s fun time!

Help! I’m allergic to both latex condoms AND all the lubricants on non-latex condoms!

-          After much searching, the Positive Passions staff has yet to find an unlubricated, non-latex condom. Two options are available for you.


-          1.  Purchase the FC2 Female Condom, which is made of nitrile (latex free) and lubricated with silicone lubricant.  So few people react to pharmaceutical-grade liquid silicone lubricant that it is considered hypoallergenic. The FC2 condom will protect against STIs and unplanned pregnancies.  The FC2 condom can be purchased at several online stores.


-          2. Purchase the FC1 Female Condom (lubricated polyurethane condom) and very carefully rinse the water-based lubricant off of the condom. Pat dry. Be certain the washing procedure does not abrade or puncture or otherwise degrade the surface of the female condom, as this would compromise its effectiveness.  Carefully apply a polyurethane-compatible lubricant that does not irritate you to the female condom and use.  Never unroll and wash a male condom, you will not be able to properly place it on the erect penis after it has been unrolled.


Stay comfortable and stay safe! Ask the Positive Passions staff to recommend condoms, dams and lubricants if you have any particular concerns or sensitivities.

Positive Passions lists ALL the ingredients of ALL of the lubricants we carry on our online store, making it easy for you to choose one that meets your needs.

We list the ingredients of our massage products, too!

By Lana

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posted on: January 9, 2016 11:42 PM

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posted on: September 15, 2017 10:10 AM

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