When You’re Allergic To Safe Sex

Kiele Twarowski
Kiele Twarowski

I’m still waiting for the condom of the future.

Didn’t Bill Gates promise me a better condom? I feel like someone did, and I am sick of waiting. I want it now. It had better not be latex. Latex is the devil. You see I am one of the lucky people with a latex allergy. This only affects my life when I get stupid and decide to use a regular condom. According to the American Latex Allergy Association, approximately 3 million people (or 1% of the general US population) have a latex allergy. Yet, there are only five companies that make non­latex options.

Condoms are important for sexual health. As a woman with a latex allergy I have been in the very real position of having to choose between abstinence (not happening), using a condom that is going to cause me pain, contact dermatitis, a sore throat, and if I keep doing it anaphylaxis… or no condom because I can’t find a non­latex condom in a shop.

God forbid I need a large sized condom. That is like looking for the holy grail. Yeah, they make them. But they also make female condoms and have you ever seen them on a shelf? Add to my frustration with my condom options the fact that non­latex condoms are more likely to break, slip ­off and fail than their latex counterparts according to The WHO Reproductive Health Library.

So I ask again, where is my condom of the future? I’m only asking because I walk around all day with a computer more powerful than the ones we used to put men on the moon in my pocket, and I use it to listen to music and text. I can access all the world’s knowledge, but I’m still using the kind of condom that my Grandfather was issued by the army in WWII. I can own a 3D printer for all my 3D printing needs, but God forbid we really innovate in the realm of sexual health.

I am a single woman, and the biggest hurdle to my sex life is condoms. Being in a relationship where I was fluid-­bonded would make my life so much easier as I have birth control sorted. If ever there was a sad reason to settle down it is “I couldn’t deal with the latex”.

I know, just have the condoms you need on hand! It sounds so easy! So sensible! But it isn’t. First, when you tell men that you have a latex allergy, they smile like Christmas has come early. In their minds no latex=no condom. Apparently, men are not at all concerned about STDs or getting me pregnant (they never ask about birth control. It’s just assumed). Then I get to open their eyes to the extremely limited world of condom options. It is like I killed a puppy. No bareback for them. No bareback for me. Unless it slips off or breaks, which is much more likely! I am in a sea of poor choices!

Sometimes I tempt fate. In the moment, I forget about the pain and irritation that comes with latex and the fact that I need “special condoms”. Sometimes, I just want to have sex with my partner, and I pay absolutely no attention to what kind of condom he put on. The fact that I clocked if he is using one is impressive. Which was the situation last week.

It was my first time with this guy, and I frankly could not wait to get to get his clothes off. I blithely had sex like everyone else, and I am still paying for it. I’m irritated. My throat is red and inflamed (and had no contact with the item in question). I have been to two doctors to make sure that nothing else is going on. Nothing is. It is just latex. Evil latex and my body rebelling against me putting it in contact with it.

The terrible thing is about halfway through I felt the first twinge. I knew it was going to be bad, and I did a supremely stupid thing. The condom came off. Another one did not go on.

I am not proud of this choice. I got lucky. I got tested. I got lucky. The pain from the latex is a constant reminder of that. However, I resent being in that position. I am ready for a better option. I am ready for more options. I shouldn’t have to settle when it comes to sex and my health. No one should.

I shouldn’t have to compromise on efficacy and availability. There should be more options to protect against STDs. Condoms and abstinence are not enough. I want more development and innovation in the industry. I want investment. I want people to stop being complacent and accepting that the options we have as the height of human achievement in the field.

I want my condom of the future. Or I want something even better so I stop making bad decisions. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Alison Meehan loves narrative regardless of platform and would very much like to spend the rest of her days studying it.

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