Lambskin Condoms: For Pregnancy Only

For heterosexual couples, there are two main purposes for wearing a condom during vaginal sex. The first is to prevent pregnancy. The second is to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. (Non-heterosexual couples, or couples not having vaginal sex, only have to worry about using condoms for STD prevention.) The most effective condom material for both of these purposes is latex or polyurethane. These condoms can also be used with a spermicidal lubricant if needed. 

There are other materials used to make condoms, but not all are effective for both pregnancy and STD prevention. That is to say, not all condoms are created equal. Read the list of ingredients carefully before choosing your condom. You want to be sure it's made of the right stuff for what you need. 

Midsection Of Woman Holding Condom While Standing At Home
Rattanakun Thongbun / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lambskin Condoms: Pros and Cons

So-called lambskin condoms have fallen out of favor somewhat in recent years. However, they are still sold and used for limited purposes. First, to answer the most-asked question about them, lambskin condoms are not actually made from lambs' skin. Instead, they're made from a thin membrane that is part of sheep intestine. The part of the sheep intestine that lambskin condoms are made from is known as the cecum.

If that doesn't turn you off of wanting to try them, it's important to be aware of their biggest limitation. Although lambskin condoms can be used for pregnancy prevention, they are not effective at protecting sexual partners from STDs. For STD prevention, latex or polyurethane condoms are a much better choice. Therefore, lambskin condoms should only be used for couples who are not concerned about STDs. In other words, they should only be used by mutually, monogamous couples who have both been screened for STDs 

There are some other things you should think about before buying lambskin condoms. Natural lambskin condoms are more expensive than latex condoms. However, if you want to try them, you have options. Most drugstores carry lambskin condoms, and they are also available online.

Remember, lambskin condoms can be used to prevent pregnancy, but they are not effective at preventing STD transmission. That's true for oral, vaginal, and anal sex. 

Why Use a Lambskin Condom?

Why do people like lambskin condoms? Despite the fact that they're not terribly useful as sexual health aids, lambskin condoms do have a couple of good qualities.

Lambskin condoms are less allergenic than latex condoms. Before there were good latex alternatives, some sex educators recommended layering a lambskin condom over or under a latex condom to reduce reactions in people with latex allergies. Now, however, there are both polyurethane and polyisoprene condom varieties. Both types of condoms are suitable for those with latex allergies.

Lambskin also transmits warmth better than latex. Therefore, for couples who are only concerned about preventing pregnancy, and/or looking for ways to shake things up in bed, they may be a reasonable choice. And unlike latex condoms, lambskin condoms can be used with oil-based lubricants. (Oil based lubricants would degrade other condoms and make them less effective).

Why You May Want to Avoid Lambskin Condoms

The biggest argument against the use of lambskin condoms is that they are not effective against the transmission of STDs. They're sold in drugstores alongside other varieties of condom, so be very careful when making your purchase. 

And although they're billed as a "natural alternative" to other condoms, lambskin condoms are (obviously) not vegan. Therefore, if you're a vegan or a vegetarian, they're probably something you want to avoid. (And yes, vegan condoms are totally a thing.) 

Now that there are several latex alternatives, including polyurethane and polyisoprene, lambskin condoms are quickly going out of style. It's probably for the best. Lambskin condoms are not considered an effective way of preventing STDs. Furthermore, other types of condoms are just as effective at pregnancy prevention. Now that there are other good options for people with latex allergies, I wouldn't be surprised if lambskin condoms were eventually phased out for good.


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By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.