- Medically reviewed by Dr. Andrea Pinto on 18 November 2021
When you buy condoms, it can feel like there are thousands of brands and varieties of condoms available. It can be overwhelming to try and choose the best type of condom for you and your partner, especially if you engage in different types of sexual activity, such as vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
Are flavoured condoms safe for sex?
The main purpose of flavoured condoms is for them to be used during oral sex, which explains the addition of many different flavours to make the experience more enjoyable or to provide new sensations during this sexual activity.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that flavoured condoms can be used for all types of sex. What about penetrative sex? According to the official Durex website, it’s very important to choose the right flavoured condom if you’re thinking of using one during penetrative intercourse.
The risks of flavoured condoms
Some flavoured condoms contain a sugar-based lubricant to give them a pleasant sweet taste. While this can help provide a more enjoyable experience during foreplay and oral sex, intimate products that contain sugar should never be used for penetrative vaginal intercourse. As The University of Texas at Austin University Health Services reminds us, the sugar in these products can alter the pH in the vagina and increase your risk of candidiasis or yeast infections.
If you’re unsure about the components of a specific flavoured condom, it may be a good idea to avoid them altogether for penetrative sex, and instead switch to a non-flavoured condom before engaging in penetrative intercourse.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by Candida spp. Candidiasis can affect different parts of the body, including the mouth and genitals. Vaginal candidiasis is a relatively common problem for many women, and according to the Mayo Clinic, 3 out of every 4 women will experience a bout of vaginal candidiasis at least once in their lives, sometimes even more.
Vaginal yeast infections aren’t considered to be sexually transmitted infections (STDs). Instead, they’re simply the result of an overgrowth of Candida spp. due to an imbalance of your normal vaginal flora. However, sexual activity can increase the risk of developing vaginal yeast infections. According to the CDC, other risk factors of vaginal candidiasis include:
- Use of hormonal birth control
- Weakened immune system
- Recent use of antibiotics
If you’ve recently used flavoured condoms and are worried about a yeast infection, these are some of the symptoms that you should watch out for — according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Intense itching in your vulva and vagina
- Thick white vagina discharge that resembles cottage cheese and doesn’t have a foul smell
- Redness and swelling in your genitals
- Cracked skin around your genitals
- A burning or painful sensation during urination
- Painful intercourse due to the swelling
What are the best condoms?
As we mentioned above, flavoured condoms can be a great choice if you’re looking to introduce fun, new sensations during oral sex. But you should probably avoid them during penetrative sex, unless you can be absolutely certain that they don’t contain any sugar-based lubricants. If you aren’t sure about this, it’s probably safer to switch to a different condom before penetrative sex.
According to Sex, etc. by Rutgers University, you can find non-flavoured condoms made out of different materials, including:
- Latex: this is the most common type of condom. They’re very effective if you use them correctly every time you have sex, and they can help prevent both pregnancy and STDs. But you should avoid using oil-based lubricants with them because the oil can weaken the latex and cause the condom to break. Instead, choose water-based lubricants to go with latex condoms.
- Polyurethane, nitrile, and polyisoprene: these condoms are great alternatives for people who have a latex allergy, and they’re just as effective as latex condoms. They can be used with any type of lubricant, since oils won’t weaken these condoms. Some people prefer these materials because they say that these condoms allow for better sensation during sex.
- Natural skin (lambskin) condoms: these condoms are very thin and have tiny pores, which means that they can’t prevent STD transmission. They’re only used for pregnancy prevention, which is why they should only be used if you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship where both partners have previously tested negative for STDs.
- Female or internal condoms: made out of nitrile, these condoms are placed inside the vagina to keep you safe from STDs and pregnancy. They feature a flexible outer ring which is placed outside of the vagina and over the vulva, which can help protect you against diseases such as herpes and HPV.
- Dental dams: these thin sheets are usually made of latex or nitrile, and they’re meant to cover the vagina or anus during oral sex.
Remember that in addition to choosing the right condom, it’s also very important to learn how to use condoms properly to prevent breakage. You and your partner(s) should also get tested for STDs regularly to prevent transmission — you can learn more about STD testing at STDWatch.com.
- EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLAVOURED CONDOMS - durex.co.uk
- Using Lube - healthyhorns.utexas.edu
- Yeast infection (vaginal) - mayoclinic.org
- Vaginal Candidiasis - cdc.gov
- Yeast Infections - my.clevelandclinic.org
- Do condoms work? What’s the best brand and which type of condom is most effective? - sexetc.org