During sex, the condom has been irritating my vagina. Why could this be happening?

There are many reasons a condom could be irritating to someones vagina, so we will list several below.

Latex Allergy

Most condoms are made out of latex, and about 1 to 3% of people have latex allergies. Physical reactions to a latex allergy can include a rash on or around the genitals, redness, blistering, and itching; they usually begin to appear 6 to 48 hours after the exposure to latex. If someone ever experiences more severe symptoms, like cramps, hives, severe itching, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, or difficulty breathing, they should stop using the condom immediately, and should not hesitate to contact a doctor. These may be signs of a severe and life-threatening form of latex allergy. If someone would like to know for sure whether or not they may be allergic to latex, they should contact a physician who will be able to test them for the allergy.

Plastic (also known as polyurethane, a type of rubber) condoms are available for people with latex allergies. Plastic and latex condoms have roughly equivalent efficacy rates of preventing pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Polyurethane condoms are slightly thinner and less flexible than latex ones, so more lubrication and caution are required when putting one on. (Plastic condoms also tend to be more expensive.) Remember that both oil-based and water-based lubricants are safe to use with plastic condoms, but oil-based lubricants should never be used with latex condoms. Oil deteriorates latex and makes it much more likely to tear.  


    Some condoms contain a spermicide, which helps eliminate any sperm that may escape the condom. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in most spermicides is the chemical nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has been shown to irritate the vaginal walls and cause lesions (small cuts), which could be the cause of irritation. Check to see if the condoms that are used contain this ingredient, and if they do, find condoms that do not. (This should not be difficult to do because most condoms no longer contain spermicide.)

Insufficient Lubrication

    A very common cause of vaginal irritation or pain during intercourse is insufficient lubrication. If someone is not very aroused or their vagina naturally produces less lubrication, penetrative sexual activity may cause too much friction, and this friction can irritate their vagina by creating microscopic tears in the vaginal walls. Lesions not only cause irritation, but they also facilitate the transmission of STIs and viruses. Because of this, it is very important to be sufficiently lubricated before any penetration occurs, especially if the penetration is going to be vigorous. Luckily, there is a very simple solution: use a personal lubricant! There are many different types available, so people can experiment and see if any help. As mentioned previously, never use an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom.

    The condoms being used may have a textured surface. This is said to increase stimulation for the female, and therefore increase pleasure. However, perhaps this texture is creating too much friction and is irritating. If this is the case then a person should use a condom that has a smooth surface.

Different brands and kinds of condoms produce different sensations. People should try to use a different brand of condom and find one that feels more comfortable.

Condom Quality

Check that the condoms that are being used are neither expired nor damaged. Check that the wrapping is not torn, punctured, or worn out. Check the expiration date. Condoms should never be stored in direct sunlight or exposed to high temperatures. When the condom is taken out of its packaging, make sure that it is not discolored, torn, sticky, dry, or brittle. If its believed that a condom has been compromised in any way, do not use it.