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Latex allergy = no condoms?

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Annie asks:

I'm quite allergic to latex. I've never had sex before but me and my boyfriend are thinking of having sex. I'm 15 and he's 16. He's not a virgin. He knows that I'm allergic to latex, too. When I'm around basically anything with latex in it (like balloons, latex gloves.) my eyes get red and itchy and my throat itches, too. I don't think it would be a good idea to use a latex condom but would there possibly be any way without having an allergic reaction to it? I don't want to have an STD either and I heard lambskin condoms don't protect against STDs and they rip easier so I'm really worried on what I can do. Would it be o.k for me to just go on birth control? What should I do?

Heather Corinna replies:

Lucky for you, the solution to this is really easy.

You're right: using a latex condom when you know you have an allergy would be a Very Bad Idea. And as well, lambskin condoms don't protect against STIs (not to mention that lambskin = eew).

STI protection is really important, and ideally, you want to start and maintain your sexual life with partners safely, with safer sex practices.

So what you need, my dear, are simply nonlatex condoms, which exist, can be easy to find, and which DO provide BOTH protection against pregnancy AND STIs.

The two most common -- and easiest to find -- versions are Durex's Avanti condom and the the Reality female condom: both are made of polyurethane, not latex or lambskin. You might want to just get a few of both and experiment to see if you prefer a male nonlatex condom or a female condom better. Trojan also makes a nonlatex condom as well, the Supra.

And, as well, you can also find nonlatex gloves and dental dams, should you have a need for those.

Do just be sure that at your age, it's also legal for you to be sexually active with your partner. In the US and Canada, for instance, in lots of regions, 15 isn't over the age of consent yet, and in some areas, even though you and your partner are only a year apart, it could be illegal for him to have sex with you. Whether or not you or we agree with those laws, they are out there and it is smart to be aware of them.

Too, should you decide at any point that condoms alone don't feel safe enough for you in terms of pregnancy prevention, you can always go talk to someone at your local sexual healthcare clinic, your general doctor, or a gynecologist about adding another method to your condom use.

written 07 Jul 2007 . updated 13 Dec 2012

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