Polyisoprene Condoms for People With Latex Allergies

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Polyisoprene condoms are a safe sex option for individuals with latex allergies. Many people feel that polyisoprene condoms provide a sensation profile that is far more similar to their latex counterparts. There's a good reason for that—polyisoprene is the synthetic form of latex. In other words, its latex made in a laboratory rather than natural rubber latex, which is made from a tree.

Confused as to why a latex product is being recommended as an option for people with latex allergies? The answer is simple. Most people with latex allergies aren't actually allergic to latex. It's weird but true.

Most people with latex allergies are not allergic to the latex itself. Instead, they're allergic to one or more of the plant proteins that contaminate it.

Most Latex Allergies Aren't About Latex

Natural latex is harvested from trees and made into gloves, condoms, and other latex products. The latex rubber that makes up these products naturally contains proteins that are the cause of allergic reactions.

In contrast, polyisoprene is created in a clean laboratory environment. Therefore, it does not contain the proteins found in natural latex. It has, by and large, the same physical properties as latex. What it doesn't have is the other components that tend to cause a bit more biological havoc, including allergies.

That's why polyisoprene condoms are so similar to latex condoms. They're fundamentally a cleaner version of the same thing. Polyurethane condoms, on the other hand, are made from a different type of polymer entirely. Polyurethane condoms tend to be baggier and less stretchy because they are made from plastic, not rubber.

If you have latex allergies and are looking for products that can make your sex life safer, things are looking up. It may be worth some experimentation with one of the polyisoprene condoms on the market. They may also be a better option than polyurethane for some people because of their lower price.

Many men prefer the way polyisoprene condoms fit. They stretch like latex and feel like latex. 

It may seem strange that scientists have created a latex-based condom for those with latex allergies, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

Buying Polyisoprene Condoms

Curious about whether polyisoprene condoms might be a good idea for improving your sex life? Here's what you need to know.

Price: They are slightly more expensive than natural latex condoms but cheaper than polyurethane condoms. Polyurethane condoms are the other alternative for people with latex allergies.

Ease of Acquisition: Polyisoprene condoms are available at many drugstores and online.

Use During Vaginal Intercourse: In 2008, the FDA approved polyisoprene condoms for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As such, they are suitable for use during vaginal intercourse.

Use During Oral Sex: Polyisoprene condoms are suitable for use during oral sex.

Use During Anal Sex: Polyisoprene condoms can be used anywhere latex rubber condoms can, including for anal sex. Just don't forget the lube.

Lubricants: You can safely use both water and silicone-based lubricants with polyisoprene condoms. You should not use oil-based lubricants. Just like latex condoms, oil-based products can break down the condom and increase the risk of breakage of polyisoprene condoms.

  • Stretchy and comfortable

  • Suitable for people with latex allergies

  • Cheaper than polyurethane condoms

  • Appropriate for same uses as latex condoms

  • Slightly more expensive than latex condoms

  • Some are slightly thicker than latex condoms

Pros: Polyisoprene condoms provide the stretchy comfort of a latex condom without the itch factor that most people with latex allergies experience. These condoms are cheaper than polyurethane condoms, the other allergy-friendly condom option. They have similar efficacy to latex condoms and work in similar ways

Cons: These condoms are slightly more expensive than similar latex condoms. However, this price difference can be eliminated by buying in bulk.

A Word From Verywell

In 2008, the FDA approved the first polyisoprene condom for prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The SKYN condom (made from polyisoprene) has made a lot of waves since it has been on the market. It is very stretchy, and more form-fitting than the other alternative for people with a latex allergy, polyurethane condoms. It is also significantly cheaper.

The sensation of using these condoms is simply different enough that some people prefer them to natural latex condoms even if they don't have latex allergies. For many individuals with latex allergies, the benefits are a worthy trade-off. Furthermore, Lifestyles has expanded the SKYN line to include larger condoms, thinner condoms, and studded condoms as well as a polyisoprene condom with additional lubricant.

Polyisoprene is, chemically, the same type of rubber as latex. However, synthetic polyisoprene condoms should not contain the natural proteins that are the source of most latex allergies.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What can decrease HIV risk?

  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Latex allergy.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Have a latex allergy? 4 Safe condom types for you.

  4. Planned Parenthood. Why can’t you use baby oil with a condom?

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.