March 23, 2009

Q&A: Lambskin Condoms Vs. Latex Condoms

Lambskin vs. latex in the great condom debate - this Kinsey Confidential explains why latex is better for sexual health and other options available.

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Question: I normally use regular latex condoms when I have sex with my girlfriend, but I’ve heard that lambskin condoms can give better sensitivity. True?

Latex condoms are, by far, the most commonly used condoms in most parts of the world. After all, even though their material is quite thin, it’s actually quite strong. As a result, latex condoms have low rates of breakage and slippage.

When used correctly and consistently during sexual activities, latex condoms can greatly reduce the risk of infection transmission and pregnancy.

Even so, sometimes men and women are curious about other types of condoms or ways they can heighten their sensation during sex.

Though latex condoms are made of thin material, many men say that they feel less sensation during sex with a condom compared to sex without a condom.

Lambskin and other natural skin condoms are certainly one alternative to latex condoms. While it is true that some men experience more sensation during sex when using a natural skin condom, this benefit comes with a cost.

Although natural skin condoms greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, they do not provide protection against sexually transmissible infections, or STIs. That’s because the small pores in natural skin condoms are big enough to allow these infectious organisms through them, and transmit from one person to another.

If preventing pregnancy is your only concern, then natural skin condoms may indeed be an option for you. However, you might want to make sure that you and your partner have been tested for STIs prior to switching condom types.

Another option is to consider using polyurethane condoms, which – like latex condoms – can reduce the risk of both pregnancy and infection.

These condoms are made of material that conducts heat better than latex does. As a result, some men find that sex feels warmer and more natural when they use polyurethane condoms as opposed to latex condoms.

If you’re inclined to stick with latex condoms, however, there are other ways to heighten sensation.

For example, you or your partner might rub a water-based or silicone-based lubricant over your condom-covered penis, or you might try using a vibrating sex toy – such as a vibrating condom ring – during sex, which can heighten sensation for both of you.

To learn more about condoms and other birth control methods, explore our web site or the web site of Planned Parenthood.

  • Fred

    Is there any actual statistical data on the relative risks of penis-vagina intercourse with latex vs. polyurethane vs. lambskin condoms vs. no condom? How does it compare across the various STI's? Are there any non-physical barriers to infection transmission for the various STI's? I've heard that Acyclovir reduces the transmission of Herpes and that Grapefruit Seed Extract reduces transmisison of some bacteria. How true is this? What kind of data exist regarding means other than condoms for preventing STI transmission. Are there any comparative data on STI transmission through oral sex – without prevention vs. topical solutions vs. barriers (outlined above), including plastic stretch wrap. It seems there is always SOME risk; how can we rationally weigh the RELATIVE risks of various behaviors and prevention methods?