Condoms, Milk, and You

395518_594463200569798_568758862_nI was trolling on Facebook, like I always do, and I found the picture to the left. I excitedly shared it with loved ones and family, eager in my discovery; but then wondered. I thought vegans only didn’t eat anything that was once a part of an animal, not WEAR them. I also wondered what protein it was, and if people who are lactose intolerant were also allergic to latex. So, my research began.

Well, our first question was dealing with vegans. I’m not any kind of vegan or vegetarian. I love my meat, and used to help my dad when he would butcher deer. I like my veggies, but I love my meat more. Anyway, some vegans will use them, but this is because it would be nearly impossible to remove every possible trace of animal ingredient in their daily lives as milk and milk proteins alone are found in things like toothpaste, sunscreen, and chewing gum . But they do have an alternative as far as condoms go. There is a brand called, Glyde, and they produce a 100% vegan condom certified by the Vegan Society. Here’s what Glyde has to say on the topic:

rohgummigewinnungIn principle, each and every condom could very well be vegan – because it’s made of natural rubber latex, a plant-based substance which is made from a milky fluid harvested off rubber trees. Fortunately, the times when contraceptives were made from animal intestines are nearly over – although there is still one brand of condoms that is still made from lambskin fom New Zealand (“Naturalamb”, U.S.A.). Fortunately, these condoms must not be sold inside the E.U., so you can be sure you don’t accidentally stumble upon such an ugly thing.

To make condoms from the raw latex milk, various processes are required which in turn consist of several different steps. And it’s exactly here where there’s a big difference between vegan and non-vegan condoms – because one of the “helping hands” during rubber-making is casein. Of course, there’s no residue of that once the condom is ready, but nevertheless – as most manufacturers use it to make the rubber smooth and fine, most condoms cannot be called “vegan” at all, because “vegan” as we understand it does not only refer to the ingredients as such.

If you’re interested in learning more about Glyde and their many products, here’s a link: Glyde Homepage

From here my research took a much more scientific turn. I had learned that the protein in latex is not lactose, but rather casein. So those who are allergic to lactose may be safe. Research done by the Department of Dermatology in Tampere, Finland in 1999 found that the content of the milk protein in latex gloves was really high. And when doing a skin prick test with people who were allergic to milk, it showed a false-positive; and that it can cause people to contract urticarial syndrome, an allergic reaction leading to anaphylactic shock.

So if you are a vegan, you will have to pay more for specialty condoms; and if you are allergic to milk you should be wary of latex. Not all latex has the milk protein, casein, in it, but you should look at the label carefully because playing it safe might not always be safe.