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What to Know About Lambskin Condoms

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 15, 2021

Lambskin condoms are also known as natural membrane condoms or natural condoms. Made from animal material rather than synthetics, they serve as an alternative male condom for people with latex allergies. Some people also prefer the feel of the lambskin condom. However, while these condoms protect against pregnancy, they are less effective against sexually transmitted diseases.

What Are Lambskin Condoms?

Lambskin condoms have been around for millennia, but many misconceptions surround this contraceptive device. To begin, they aren’t made of a lamb’s skin but rather from the lamb’s cecum, a large intestinal pouch.

Some people claim that lambskin condoms enhance sensation, transmit body heat, and feel more natural than latex, but they come with one significant drawback. The lambskin material is braided tightly enough to keep sperm from penetrating the device and making its way into the woman’s reproductive system. However, the material is too porous to block fluid that transmits sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and HIV.

Lambskin condoms are both less popular and more costly to produce, making them more expensive than latex condoms. They also have a smell that some people find off-putting.

Who Should Use Lambskin Condoms?

The biggest benefit of lambskin condoms is that they don’t irritate the skin of people who suffer from a latex allergy. Latex allergies most commonly produce a reaction of contact dermatitis. Symptoms may include:

More serious cases may spread across the body. In rare instances, a latex allergy may produce an immediate and severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

How to Use Lambskin Condoms

Lambskin condoms are used the same way as latex condoms. While lambskin condoms can be slightly more difficult to find than latex ones, you can still find them at a drugstore or order them online. Unlike many other contraceptive devices such as birth control pills, they can be purchased without a prescription.

The main difference between putting on latex and lambskin condoms has to do with the method of securing the condom on the penis. While latex condoms have an elastic ring at the base, which keeps them secure, lambskin condoms have a drawstring instead. After placing the lambskin condom over the sheath of the penis, draw it tightly closed at the base with this attached drawstring.

Condoms are only effective when used properly. If you are sexually active or are considering sexual activity, you should review condom-use protocol:

  • To keep from impregnating a female partner, put on the condom before vaginal sex 
  • Store condoms somewhere cool and dry
  • Check the expiration date, and check for damage
  • Never reuse a condom
  • Open the package carefully
  • Place the tip of the rolled-up condom over the penis with the rolled rim on the outside, then roll it down the shaft
  • If there is no reservoir at the tip, press down at the tip to remove the air and create a small reservoir
  • Hold onto the base of the condom and pull it off while the penis is still erect to avoid leaks

It may take some trial and error to find a condom that’s the right size for you. The perfect fit is important. If a condom is too loose, it may slip off during sex. If it is too tight, it may break.

Other Alternatives to Latex Condoms

Lambskin condoms aren’t the only kind of non-latex condom available for people with a latex allergy. The three following options also offer protection against sexually transmitted infections as well as against pregnancy.

  • Polyurethane Condoms. These thin plastic condoms work the same way as latex condoms. However, they don’t fit as tightly as latex condoms and may slip off.
  • Polyisoprene Condoms. Polyisoprene is a synthetic rubber with many of the same properties as latex.
  • Female Condoms. These are the only condoms that women can use. Female condoms consist of flexible plastic pouches with a polyurethane ring that is inserted inside the vagina.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Have a Latex Allergy? Here are 4 Safe Non-Latex Condom Options.”

Journal of Health and Popular Nutrition: “Condom-use Skills Checklist: A Proxy for Assessing Condom-use Skills and Knowledge When Direct Observation Is Not Possible.”

Mayo Clinic: “Male Condoms.”

StatPearls: “Condoms.”

Winchester Hospital: “Condom Options.”

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