Dear Lucy: The sign on the latex-free condoms provided by Community Wellness say that if you don’t need them, the other condoms are a better choice. Is there something about latex-free condoms that makes them less effective/good than other condoms, or is this just to preserve them for those who need them? —Just Curious
Dear Curious: What an interesting question! Lucy didn’t know the answer offhand, but she knew who would—Dr. Howard Heller, former MIT Medical PCP and current infectious disease consultant.
According to Heller, both types of condoms are equally effective. “However,” he tells Lucy, “latex condoms are usually much more comfortable than polyurethane, or latex-free, condoms.” In addition, he notes, “polyurethane condoms are sometimes more difficult to put on and take off.”
Heller confirms that MIT Medical orders a more limited supply of non-latex condoms for Community Wellness to give away. “And that’s because the only people who should really be using polyurethane are people who are allergic to latex,” he says. “If you can use a latex condom, you should—it’s likely to be easier to use and more comfortable than the polyurethane alternative.”
And there you have it, Curious. Lucy thanks you again for a great question—and for giving her the opportunity to remind her readers that students are welcome to help themselves to an amazing variety of free condoms and other safer-sex supplies just outside the Community Wellness office on the third floor of MIT Medical (E23). Stop by and check it out any time the building is open (8 a.m–8 p.m. daily).—Lucy