Better Sex: The Non-Latex Condom

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Levi Joule takes a look at the changing condom market in New Zealand and examines the reason for the rise in non-latex condoms.

Traditionally, condoms purchased in New Zealand are have been made of latex. There’s no denying that latex condoms will get the job done. They are an effective way to almost eliminate the risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. However if you value a more sensual feel as much as staying safe, non-latex condoms could be for you.

Both Ansell and Durex have introduced non-latex condoms into the New Zealand market for the first time as a result of a change to the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act in 2014.

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With the change in law, New Zealander’s are now free to make a choice about what condoms work for them.

Durex market their Real Feel condom with the line ‘our first condom with the natural feeling of skin on skin.’ Real Feel condoms are made from polyisoprene, a technically advanced non-latex material that is soft and flexible but still offers the same protection as latex.

Ansell also produces a non-latex alternative condom called SKYN and markets the product as the “closest thing to wearing nothing.”

So far, non latex condoms account for almost 1/3 of the total market, a remarkable achievement considering non latex has only been available for one year.

For a large number of gay men, condoms come in the form of a free wallet offered through the NZAF. Currently the wallet only offers latex condoms (which includes lube and safe sex information) meaning those who want to experience the feel of non-latex will have to purchase it.

However, paying money for safe and more pleasurable sex doesn’t appear to be much of a barrier if the statistics are to be believed. Ansell alone has reported the brand is rapidly increasing its market share, and with a volume growth rate of 26.1% in the last year, it is clear that use of non-latex condoms is on the rise. Carl Fiebig from Ansell says that “ultimately the market vote with their wallets and determine whether non-latex is ‘the future’, but the trend towards non-latex is very obvious.”

The trajectory upwards in New Zealand is also in line with overseas trends, which have seen non-latex condoms surge in popularity and in many markets such as Japan, become market leaders.

But just why are non-latex condoms becoming so popular?

Allergy to latex can prove a problem for some; non latex condoms are made with Polyisoprene, which is treated to remove the allergens that cause adverse reactions – however allergy to latex doesn’t appear to be the driving force behind the demand for non-latex.

Rather, the issue of comfort appears to be the main reason more and more customers are seeking out non-latex condoms. Non latex provides a much better fit to those who feel like latex condoms are too snug or tight. One common complaint about latex condoms is that they decrease the sensation and that the process of putting a condom on somehow kills the excitement. SKYN and Real Feel condoms are thinner as the polyisoprene is not like natural rubber latex, which allows for a more natural feel and heat transfer than latex condoms. The vast majority of people who try non-latex condoms would recommend them.

In fact, people who express have spoke to say that wearing non-latex condoms from both Ansell and Durex has the same feeling as not wearing any condom at all.

Article | Levi Joule.

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