Over the past year, I’ve learned to become aware of everything I consume and use regularly – food, water, bath products, cleaning products, etc. – to make sure they don’t contain damaging ingredients.
Just when I thought I had all of my bases covered, I found out that condoms commonly contain a few different chemicals that can disrupt your hormones, and even increase your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or cause vaginal damage.
The average condom brand usually contains three harmful chemicals: parabens, spermicide (nonoxynol-9) and glycerine.
We’ve discussed why you want to avoid products with parabens in the past. Essentially, parabens are a preservative, commonly used in skin products, that fight against bacterial growth. The downside is that it’s a known endocrine disruptor: It screws with your hormonal system, which affects your mental, physical and reproductive health. Skin is extremely permeable, and the genital area is responsible for most of our reproductive hormones, so logically this would be the worst place for an endocrine disruptor to interact with the body. Learn more about hormone disruptors here.
The positive is that it’s effective at preventing pregnancy because it kills sperm. The downside is that it can cause inflammation and/or killing of the cells in the vaginal walls. Both of these things can make women susceptible to getting a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Although frequent or high use is likely required for adverse effects, it was enough for the World Health Organization to not recommend nonoxynol-9 spermicides for women at high risk for contracting HIV.
A preservative that’s often used as a lubricant, glycerine may increase the chances of getting a yeast infection, especially if you’re already prone.
More Natural Options
Condom companies aren’t required to list their ingredients on the box, so what are your options? Of the available natural options, these seem to be the best: Glyde and Sir Richard’s. Both are certified vegan and don’t include the chemicals listed above. More expensive than the average brand, but it’s worth practicing safer safe sex.