Condomerie Amsterdam Search System For Finding Allergy-free Condoms (CASSFFAC)
Most condoms are made of natural rubber. If you have an allergic reaction after using one of these condoms, you are probably looking for other condoms to use. In 1997, the Condomerie developed an allergy guide and discussed it with the dermatologists Dr Meinardi (who was working at the Amsterdam Medical Centre at that time) and Professor Bruynzeel of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We used their comments to produce the CASSFAC. The CASSFFAC guide helps you find the cause of the allergy and a condom that is suitable for you. But we do advise anybody with symptoms of an allergy to go to a doctor for a definite diagnosis.
Rubber allergy more common
Since the 1980s (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic) people have been protecting themselves more and more against viruses with products made of natural rubber (e.g. surgical gloves, condoms, catheters, etc.). Increased use of these rubber products has led to a rise in the number of people with a rubber allergy.
To give you an idea of how much rubber is used: each year approximately 8 billion condoms are manufactured and approximately 15 billion gloves! The Condomerie hears regularly from customers about allergic reactions after condom use. These symptoms can be quite serious, so we always try to help in any way we can.
You may have been using a certain type of condom for quite a long time and only recently started to develop symptoms. That isn’t unusual, as you can develop an allergy at a later point.
Latex and natural rubber
Latex is a milky fluid found in the rubber tree, which coagulates (becomes solid) when exposed to air. Latex is the chief source of natural rubber.’ (Oxford dictionary)
Latex contains natural proteins, as do the products that are made of latex. The protein content in the final product can be reduced using different production methods. This could involve the crude latex going through a separation process, or an extra rinsing cycle for the products after dipping. Other ways to extract the protein are currently being studied. Some manufacturers have done research into the application of new technology and are now working on further reducing the concentration of latex proteins in rubber products.
The Condomerie itself cannot make a diagnosis. So we always advise people to get in touch with their doctor. Some symptoms may be caused by a sexually transmitted infection or other disorder. If it’s not clear what is causing your symptoms, the doctor will usually refer you to a dermatologist.
In the meantime, the Condomerie can give you some advice on which condoms may be suitable. So you can still have safer sex while you find out exactly what the problem is.
Once you have a diagnosis, we can help you work out which condoms are best for you.
As so many different substances can cause an allergic reaction, it is often difficult to discover what the problem is. It is possible, however, to classify the types of allergies and their causes. The most common causes are:
- proteins in natural rubber (latex proteins)
- rubber chemicals (such as chemical accelerators: thiurams, carbamates and mercaptobenzothiazoles)
- preservatives (antioxidants)
- vulcanising agents (sulphur)
- scents (including perfume) and flavourings
- other additives (such as Nonoxynol-9)
Not all condoms are the same, so you may experience problems with one brand which you won’t have with another one. The Condomerie’s large assortment gives you the opportunity to try out condoms from different manufacturers. The CASSFFAC™ allergy guide is the best way to find an allergy-free condom.