Sonntag, 13. November 2011

Are latex condoms better?

Compared to the animal tusk and tortoise shell condoms of a few hundred years back, latex condoms are almost certainly better (unless that’s your thing of course – we’re not here to judge you). But how does latex compare to other modern condom materials – polyurethane and lamb skin?

Latex condoms are made from an emulsion of rubber, sourced from rubber trees. Polyurethane condoms are made from a synthetic plastic. Lamb skin condoms have a pretty misleading name, as they’re actually made of sheep intestines. Pretty sexy, eh?

Latex are the most common kind of condoms. They’re the most stretchy of the three, and so least likely to stretch or slip. When used properly, they’re effective at blocking sperm, so are an effective birth control method. They also massively reduce the risk of transmitting STIs, including HIV, so are a good choice when having sex with a new partner or someone mysterious that you don’t know the sexual history of with any certainty. However, about 1% of people are allergic to latex, which makes such intimate contact with the substance really rather unpleasant. Which brings us to…

Polyurethane condoms – a good choice if one or more participants are allergic to latex, as it won’t set off an allergic reaction. Polyurethane also has a bunch of fans who aren’t necessarily allergic to latex – some people like the way that polyurethane transfers heat better than latex, saying polyurethane condoms provide a better sensation. Like latex, they’re effective barrier contraception and very effective at preventing the spread of STIs when used correctly. However, although polyurethane is actually stronger than latex, it’s not as stretchy – so polyurethane condoms can break and slip more easily.

Lamb skin condoms are another option if a latex allergy is a problem. And like polyurethane, they’re got a bunch of fans that claim they feel a lot better. However, if you want condoms cheap, they’re not the best bet, as they’re the most expensive of the three. And, more seriously, they’re not very effective at preventing the spread of STIs. They can block semen, but there are microscopic holes in the material that are large enough to allow pathogens to pass through. So they’re best used as contraception inside a monogamous relationship.

So, whether latex condoms are best is a matter of personal preference – they’re probably the safest, but if you’re allergic to them, polyurethane is probably a better bet. Unless you’re unnecessarily old fashioned, rich or just like showing off – in which case you could always go for the sensual embrace of sheep intestines…


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