How Safe Are Flavored Condoms?

How to Use the Novelty Condoms Appropriately

couple using condom
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStockphoto

Just because the word "condom" is printed on the label, don't assume that it will provide the same level of protection against STDs or pregnancy as every condom. This is especially true when it comes to novelty flavored condoms.

While some flavored condoms may meet standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in vaginal or anal sex, the majority of these products are meant solely for oral sex and nothing else.

Because of this, it is imperative that you read the label of any flavored condom to ascertain which type of sexual activity it is appropriate for.

Even it is approved for intercourse, you may want to think twice before using one for this purpose. The flavoring chemicals can potentially cause irritation to the delicate mucosal tissues of the vagina or anus.

Moreover, the sweeteners used for these products (which may include glycerin, aspartame, or saccharine) can throw off the pH balance of a woman's vagina, increasing her risk of developing a yeast infection.

Flavored Condoms for Oral Sex

Oral sex is the main reason why flavored condoms were created. The flavoring can help mask the taste of latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene while offering significant protection against orally transmitted STDs. The flavoring chemicals are considered safe and generally won't cause irritation to the mouth or throat.

One of the downsides to the flavored condoms is that they generally don't come in many sizes. In some cases, they can be too tight (which can be uncomfortable for the man) and, in others, too loose (which can cause slippage and make sex awkward).

For this reason, some couples will use regular condoms along with a flavored lubricant.

However, as with flavored condoms, flavored lubricants can affect the vaginal pH balance and shouldn't be used for intercourse.

If you do decide to purchase a flavored lubricant, check the label to be sure that it is either water-based or silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants should be avoided as they can degrade the chemical structure of a latex or polyisoprene condom and cause it to break.

The Verdict

Flavored condoms are commonly marketed as a means of improving the experience of safe oral sex. To this end, when purchasing one, you need to be certain that it is not a novelty item. If unsure, it is best to stick to well-known condom brands and to read the label in full.

If you're looking for a way to spice up your sex life, do yourself a favor and buy an assortment. On the one hand, you can surprise your partner with a variety of unexpected taste sensations. On the other, it allows you to grab another if the first has an unexpectedly unpleasant taste.

On the other hand, don't underestimate the value of a plain, unlubricated latex condom. Once you get used the taste of latex, it's really not all that bad. It also means you don't have to buy an assortment of flavored condoms or lubricants for oral sex and a separate set of unflavored condoms and lubricants for vaginal and anal sex.

Sometimes, it's good to go old school.