Having a latex allergy — or simply being sensitive to the substance — can make shopping for condoms that won't irritate your skin frustrating. That's because latex condoms are pretty much everywhere, and with good reason: they're highly effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy and STI/HIV transmission. Fortunately, you can have safe sex with the best non-latex condoms, too — you just have to know what to look for.
Just how common is a latex allergy? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from one to 6 percent of the general population can be affected by the allergy, which can cause itchiness, swelling, hives, and in very rare instances, anaphylactic shock. For healthcare workers who regularly wear latex gloves, that percentage is even higher: an estimated eight to 12 percent are impacted.
For people with a latex allergy or sensitivity, condoms made from alternate materials are usually considered the way to go. Polyurethane condoms, which are made from plastic, are ideal for those looking for a thinner, barely-there feel. Meanwhile, polyisoprene condoms, which are made using synthetic rubber, offer more stretchiness than ordinary latex does.
Polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms both have pros and cons, but either are a good choice if you're shopping for latex-free condoms. Lambskin condoms, which are made from an animal product, might appeal to some who prefer a natural option (after all, natural latex comes from trees), but it's important to keep in mind that lambskin won't protect against STIs or HIV.
Still unsure which non-latex condom is right for you? Here are four of my favorites so you can start having the hottest, safest sex ever.