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Oil-based lubricants and latex condoms

Sep 21, 1999

what do you mean by some lubricants weaken condom... does it make it more elastic and it could break, or does it put little holes in it which then it breaks or what? i used a lubricant that its main ingrediant was purified water, but i noticed at the bottom it had a small amount of mint oil in it....

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. When latex comes in contact with anything that is oil-based, a chemical reaction occurs which breaks down and weakens the latex, making it more likely to have small holes in it, and finally leading to breakage of the condom. This is why latex condoms (and anything else made of latex) should only be used with water-based lubricants (water-based lubricants will not damage latex). If you used a latex condom, and it came in contact with anything containing an oil-based ingredient, there is a chance that the latex was damaged, therefore reducing the amount of protection. Condoms and other latex barriers will only protect you if you use them every time and use them correctly. If they are not used correctly, then the risk of infection exists. To be on the safe side, my suggestion to you is to get tested for HIV and other STDs, based on the fact that you did not use the condom correctly (since the lubricant may have contained an oil-based ingredient).

By the way, if you use a polyurethane condom, then any type of lubricant (oil-based or water-based) is safe to use, since both of these types of lubricants will not damage things made out of polyurethane. To learn more about lubricants, see the posting, Lubrication (lube): What kind should I use during sex?

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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