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Let’s Talk About Sex

- DR TLALENG MO­FO­KENG an­swers your in­ti­mate ques­tions Health · STDs · Sex · Relationships & Sex · Birth Control · Sex Accessories

Are flavoured con­doms and lu­bri­cants safe to use dur­ing vagi­nal sex?

Flavoured con­doms are la­tex con­doms with a flavoured ex­ter­nal coat­ing. Flavoured con­doms and lu­bri­cants can help make oral sex more en­joy­able for the per­son giv­ing. The taste of la­tex is rub­bery and the flavour­ing can help mask the taste of la­tex, polyuretha­ne, or poly­iso­prene while still of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion against dis­eases. The flavour­ing chem­i­cals are con­sid­ered safe and gen­er­ally won’t cause ir­ri­ta­tion to the mouth, throat or hands.

Mainly for oral sex

While some flavoured con­doms and lu­bri­cants are la­belled to be safe for vagi­nal and anal use, the ma­jor­ity are meant for oral sex only. It is im­por­tant to read the la­bel of any flavoured con­dom or lu­bri­cant to as­cer­tain which type of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity it is ap­pro­pri­ate and tested for.

Con­doms come in many flavours. As with lu­bri­cants, they range from lime to choco­late to whipped straw­berry cream to bub­blegum, and have been tested to be safe for hu­man con­sump­tion.

Ir­ri­ta­tion

One of the down­sides to flavoured con­doms is that they gen­er­ally don’t come in many sizes, thus can com­pro­mise the ef­fi­cacy of the con­dom if an ill-fit­ting con­dom is used. Many peo­ple can use these con­doms with­out ma­jor is­sues. How­ever, the flavour­ing chem­i­cals can also po­ten­tially cause ir­ri­ta­tion to the mu­cosal tis­sues of the vagina or anus.

The sweet­en­ers used for these prod­ucts (which may in­clude glyc­erin, as­par­tame, or sac­cha­rine) can af­fect the pH bal­ance of the vagina, in­creas­ing the risk of de­vel­op­ing bac­te­rial vagi­nosis or vagi­nal can­dida.

Fit for pur­pose

With flavoured lu­bri­cants, it is im­por­tant to also check the la­bel to be sure that it is ei­ther wa­ter-based or sil­i­cone-based. Sil­i­cone can de­grade the chem­i­cal struc­ture and in­tegrity of a la­tex con­dom and cause it to break, thus af­fect­ing neg­a­tively the abil­ity to pro­tect from sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases.

When pur­chas­ing con­doms or lu­bri­cants, read the la­bel in full. It is rec­om­mended that you pur­chase an as­sort­ment of flavoured con­doms and lu­bri­cants for oral sex and have un­flavoured con­doms and lu­bri­cants for vagi­nal and anal sex.

Dr Tlaleng Mo­fo­keng (MBChB), sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health prac­tice, Disa Clinic, safer­sex.co.za

E-mail your ques­tions to life­style@sun­day­times.co.za with SEX TALK as the sub­ject. Anonymity is as­sured.

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