Are polyurethane condoms as effective as latex ones?

Originally Published: February 9, 2001 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 22, 2009
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Dear Alice,

Are polyurethane condoms as effective as latex ones? I bought a box of them and it says that if you are not allergic to latex, then use latex condoms. Why is this?

Dear Reader,

Compared to latex condoms, polyurethane condoms have been shown in lab tests to be just as effective as barriers to sperm and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Furthermore, correct and consistent use of condoms (latex or polyurethane) during sexual intercourse greatly reduces the risk of an unwanted pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Actually, latex and polyurethane condoms are the only birth control products that also help protect against HIV.

Studies have shown that with typical use (used inconsistently or incorrectly some of the time and consistently and correctly other times), latex condoms are more likely to do the job better than polyurethane condoms. But, this isn't to say that polyurethane condoms are ineffective — they are, certainly, quite effective. In fact, they've passed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rigorous tests and have gained the FDA's stamp of approval for sale in the United States as an effective method of contraception and HIV prevention.

Compared to latex condoms, polyurethane condoms are less elastic and looser-fitting, making them slightly more likely to break or slip off. (Using lube and being a little less enthusiastic in movements may help to prevent this.) For this reason, many organizations, including the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend polyurethane condoms to people sensitive or allergic to latex. For those who are not sensitive or allergic to latex, latex condoms are a better bet for safer sex.

Alice

May 21, 2009

21524

Dear Alice,

I would say that latex condoms only get the added kudos because they have a larger industry/marketing concern even though the manufacturers are usually the same. What they...

Dear Alice,

I would say that latex condoms only get the added kudos because they have a larger industry/marketing concern even though the manufacturers are usually the same. What they consistently fail to mention, including in the above answer, is that repeated exposure to latex often precipitates or worsens a latex allergy. Most of the public is not aware of the symptoms of a latex reaction and particularly in terms of the vagina. Discomfort is often blamed on other things. As a person allergic to latex, I wish more shelf space (inventory) were given to the best alternative there is — polyurethane condoms.

January 2, 2009

21507
To the reader:

They stretch like no other, a good two inches if you need it. They are extremely comfortable and in my experience thinner and clear in appearance. They do not smell like latex and...

To the reader:

They stretch like no other, a good two inches if you need it. They are extremely comfortable and in my experience thinner and clear in appearance. They do not smell like latex and they have a very high resilience. They hold onto lube better than the latex condoms. They do tend to rub or feel rough if you do not have a good motion because it ruffles if it is stretched beyond the normal size. I wish they would make bigger ones or a few sizes. Maybe the ribbed ones would not be so rough. You better use those before they get bad! I think they expire quicker than the latex condoms.