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Condoms: Latex vs. non-latex

| Sex Columnist

While idly browsing the family planning section of Walgreen’s one morning, I found myself rediscovering all the fabulous varieties of condoms. Next to the Mint Tingle Trojans and Assorted Durex Pleasure Packs stood Lifestyles’ “Skyn” non-latex polyisoprene condoms and Naturalamb non-latex lambskin condoms.

When choosing between a 12-pack of plain lubricated condoms for $12.99 and a box of Naturalamb for $29.99, most would select the cheaper option. After all, we’re college students—we shouldn’t have to pay 30 bucks to have sex only 12 times.

So why would anyone choose Naturalamb or Skyn over your average Trojan (latex allergies aside)? Although both lambskin and polyisoprene are advertised as alternatives to latex that increase pleasure and can even cause a warming feeling, “for that skin-to-skin sensation,” the truth comes from the consumer.

Lambskin condoms, typically made from a lamb’s caecum (intestine), are roomier than standard latex condoms but less stretchy. One anonymous female junior said of the lambskin, “There wasn’t much sensation. It felt like a sock, if a sock could be compared to a condom.” In addition to these drawbacks, lambskin is much more porous than either latex or polyisoprene, making them permeable to water and able to leak viruses and other small cells. Although the dreaded sperm cannot get through (making these viable contraception devices), they do not protect from STIs. In a world in which STI figures continue to grow annually, STI prevention is extremely important. As the Naturalamb Web site warns, “NATURALAMB® Brand Condoms are ideal for the monogamous couple.”

Polyisoprene condoms, by contrast, were approved in 2008 by the FDA for pregnancy prevention and STI protection as an alternative to plastic polyurethane condoms, a less flexible non-latex option. Although more form-fitting than both lambskin and regular condoms, these are much more elastic and are made from natural rubber—think of the texture and fit of a surgical glove. According to Health News Digest, “80 percent of women surveyed claimed they would buy this product,” although one anonymous male senior reports that polyisoprene condoms “are like screwing with a plastic rock, and you can’t see a d— thing!” Made in flesh color to simulate a second skin, perhaps their cloudy tint takes away from a sexual encounter, rather than improving it.

Still, most Web sites and articles that review lambskin, polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms claim all three are thinner than latex. Whatever the reality, the importance is the comfort and fit for a partner. An anonymous sophomore female offered that once while trying a lambskin condom, “just to see,” she found the condom had slipped off mid-sex, and she ended up not only unsure of her health after the encounter but in need of a visit to a gynecologist to remove it! A condom must fit correctly and be put on right to be 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs. So when considering your condom options, be open to different materials like latex, lamb-skin and polyisoprene; just be aware of their benefits and drawbacks.

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  • Ryan

    And Leslie, I agree with your assertion that this article offers absolutely nothing new or vaguely useful. But the rest of what you said is hateful and psychotic. And an article on how gays have sex? That’s more useful to society!? LOL!! I’m not going to go
    info how completely inane that comment is. This article needs more objective measures, and much more substance. Your opinion on its topic is ridiculous. Why don’t you go ahead and find an article that does discuss that topic–no matter how unnecessary it is (after all gays know how to have sex). Or better yet, write it yourself instead of attacking someone for choosing a topic to write on.

  • Ryan

    Way to not give any useful information here. Jeese, we all already know about STI’s blah blah blah from the 15 years of health class every American person has to take. And it’s also interesting that you interviews more women than men. The guys are the ones that wear the thing!!!!

  • janelle

    And one more thing people in biblical time got married during there teens you cant just say that sex between teens is a sin once it turns into adultery only then is it a sin

  • janelle

    Also lamb is eaten all over the world they woukdnt just be killing them for this

  • janelle

    The bible also says not to look point out and judge other peoples sins when you yourself have so many of your own

  • Dominic B

    May I take a moment to try and digest what stasie just felt necessary to post… Ok I’m ready, first of all the bible is not an overall law book, it is simply full of suggestions that may or may not be helpful. In addition to that, do not push your views on others, be content with your own life , you do not have to be content other’s. Also don’t spout your nonsense to people trying to get helpful information about the choices they have made.

  • First of the bible teaches not to use any type of birth control and teenagers should not be having sex at all… have sex only when ur married and there should be no protection what so evr involved… these condom companies should go out of business… they are making money off the evils of the world… and in my eyes they are promoting sin… how dare u all… sinners

    • gfifer1

      Shut the fuck up. No one cares about your crazy irrational beliefs. Humans are meant to have sex. We’re sexual beings, just like every other mammal on Earth. Having sex with only one person your entire life is just absurd. Not to mention, and I know this may be hard for your tiny brain to grasp, but not everyone in the world is a Christian. Hence, they’re not obligated to follow “God’s word”. So shut up, and I don’t care that this comment is three years old.

      • CrimsonCobra

        Well said! I can’t stand those lousy bible thumpers. No wonder people are leaving Christianity in droves.

  • David J

    First I want to point out that vaseline should NEVER be used as lube with condoms.
    It can weaken the latex and make the condom much more likely to break.

    In response to Leslie, for some people this may be new information. Additionally, it provides some students’ opinions and experiences about the subject. Also, I don’t understand what your idea of “low brow” is. I found the article tasteful, informative and mature, and in my book, I would hope that “such a high ranked school” would encourage such intelligent discourse about sexual topics. Besides, how is lube or gay sex more high brow than condoms?

  • Ron Swanson

    I think that you have missed the point of the column completely, Leslie. It’s to present the information to people who are not taking the time to search wiki about these topics and start a dialogue about things that ARE still taboo. These topics are not just out in an open social forum as you seem to suggest. If you think it’s disgusting and none of the information is new to you, then spend your time reading a different column.

    And of course vaseline is a viable lube! Duh!

  • Leslie Knope

    This is disgusting. A lamb has been slaughtered so that teenagers can go at it like wild rabbits. Between the pubic hair and foot sex articles I don’t know why this section is still a part of the newspaper. It is embarrassing as a high ranked school to have such a tasteless, low-brow column. Also, is any of this information new to anyone? Just do a wiki search. And most of this information is already known. Why not do subjects that people actually have questions about. Like how do gays actually have sex? Can vaseline be a viable lube?

    • gfifer1

      You do know that lambs are slaughtered for their meat, right? It’s especially popular in Greek culture. Ever had a Gyro? So, most likely the lamb isn’t being slaughtered for the sole purpose of harvesting their intestine for the making of condoms. It’s extremely likely that it’s being harvested alongside the lamb meat that will be sold in, say, a grocery store for human consumption. So calm your PETA boner down.