Let’s Talk About Sex
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.
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
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