- NEW YORK - When used in combination with condoms, certain popular over-the-counter
(OTC) vaginal products may lead to condom failure, Texas researchers report.
- Previous research has shown that latex
- the material that most condoms are made of - rapidly deteriorates when
exposed to pure mineral (baby) oil or vegetable oil (common ingredients
in some OTC vaginal lubricants), and anti-fungal or anti-itch creams.
- In the new study, vaginal products that
contained the oils decreased condom strength, which potentially could hamper
their effectiveness as birth control and prevention against sexually transmitted
diseases, according to the report in the Southern Medical Journal.
- "The use of any vaginal product
that contains mineral oil or vegetable oil may be associated with decreased
condom integrity," stressed lead researcher Dr. Ted Rosen, a dermatologist
at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
- In the study, Rosen and colleague Allison
D. Rosen exposed 20 condoms to 10 OTC vaginal products for 5 minutes to
see if exposure had any effect on "burst" time. After exposure,
researchers inflated the condoms with an air pump to see how much time
and pressure it took for them to burst.
- Compared with 20 untreated "control"
condoms, those that were exposed to products with mineral oil and vegetable
oil took less time to burst.
- Not surprisingly, exposure to pure baby
oil resulted in a condom burst time of 11.2 seconds, the researchers report.
Exposure to a variety of OTC products that did not contain the oils did
not affect condom strength.
- "Caution is advised when women use
any OTC intravaginal product, whether (or not) a warning label is present,
if such a product includes any mineral and/or vegetable oil component,"
the researchers conclude.
- In 1997, about 460 million condoms were
sold in the US, at a cost of $275 million. And each year, close to 25 million
OTC vaginal antifungal products are sold.