Lambskin Condoms: For Pregnancy Only

Photo: George Diebold / Getty Images

Obviously, there are two main purposes for wearing a condom during sex: to prevent pregnancy and to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The most effective condom material for both of these purposes is latex or polyurethane, used with a spermicidal lubricant if needed. 

There are other materials used to make condoms, but not all are effective for both pregnancy and STD prevention. That is to say, not all condoms are created equal.

Read the list of ingredients carefully before choosing your condom to be sure it's made of the right stuff for what you need. 

Lambskin Condoms: Pros and Cons

So-called lambskin condoms have fallen out of favor somewhat in recent years, but are still sold and used for limited purposes. First, to answer the most-asked question about them, lambskin condoms are not actually made from lambs' skin. Instead, they're made from a thin membrane that is part of sheep intestine. The part of the sheep intestine that lambskin condoms are made from is known as the cecum.

If that doesn't turn you off of wanting to try them, it's important to be aware that although they can be used for pregnancy prevention, they are not effective at protecting sexual partners from STDs. For STD prevention, latex or polyurethane condoms are a much better choice.

Natural lambskin condoms are more expensive than latex condoms.

 Most drugstores carry lambskin condoms, and they are also available online.

Lambskin condoms can be used to prevent pregnancy, but they are not effective at preventing STD transmission, either orally, vaginally or anally. 

Why Use a Lambskin Condom?

Despite the fact that they're not terribly useful as sexual health aids, lambskin condoms do have a couple of good qualities.

They are less allergenic than latex condoms. Before there were good latex alternatives, some sex educators recommended layering a lambskin condom over or under a latex condom to reduce reactions in people with latex allergies. Now, however, there are both polyurethane and polyisoprene condom varieties, which are suitable for those with latex allergies.

Lambskin transmits warmth better than latex. Therefore, for couples who are only concerned about preventing pregnancy, and/or looking for ways to shake things up in bed, they may be a reasonable choice. And unlike latex condoms, lambskin condoms can be used with oil-based lubricants (which would degrade other condoms and make them less effective).

Why You May Want to Avoid Lambskin Condoms

The biggest argument against their use is that lambskin condoms are not effective against the transmission of STDs. They're sold in drugstores alongside other varieties of condom, so be very careful when making your purchase. 

And although they're billed as a "natural alternative" to other condoms, lambskin condoms are (obviously) not vegan, so if this is a concern, they're best avoided.

Now that there are several latex alternatives, including polyurethane and polyisoprene, lambskin condoms are quickly going out of style. It's probably for the best. Lambskin condoms are not considered an effective way of preventing STDs, and other types of condoms are just as effective at pregnancy prevention. Now that there are other good options for people with latex allergies, I wouldn't be surprised if they were eventually phased out for good.

Sources:

Federal Drug Administration. "Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases." Jan 2015

Continue Reading