If you're planning on using condoms for birth control, it's important to understand how to know if you're allergic to latex condoms. According to Planned Parenthood, one to two percent of people are allergic to latex, which is produced from the milky sap of rubber trees. An allergy to latex can lead to potentially life-threatening reactions, including anaphylaxis, making it especially important to recognize the signs of a latex allergy and find an alternate birth control method.
How to know if you're allergic to latex condoms:
- Take note of possible risk factors. The Mayo Clinic warns that latex allergies can develop due to overexposure to latex. You may be at risk of becoming allergic to latex condoms if you've had medical conditions that require frequent, intensive health care, such as problems requiring multiple surgeries, or if you work in the health care profession. This is because people in these situations come into frequent contact with latex gloves. You may also be at risk if you have a family history of latex allergies.
Learn to recognize latex allergy symptoms. If you're allergic to latex condoms, you may experience mild symptoms such as itching, rash or hives at the exposed area. A more serious reaction may involve symptoms similar to nasal allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and wheezing. It's important to recognize these symptoms early on so that your latex allergy doesn't become more serious. People who are highly sensitive may experience anaphylactic shock, which can lead to difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and death.
- Talk to a doctor. A medical professional can examine your symptoms and see if symptoms such as itchiness and a rash are the result of a latex allergy or another problem, such as a sexually transmitted disease. An allergist can perform a skin test or blood test to determine if you are allergic to latex condoms or have other related allergies.
- If you're allergic to latex condoms, there are other birth control methods you can use. Polyurethane condoms are safe for people allergic to latex condoms, and protect against both pregnancy and STDs. If you're in a monogamous relationship, you can try a form of birth control that prevents pregnancy but not the spread of STDs, including lambskin condoms and hormonal birth control, such as the pill.