If you've recently experienced genital pain or discomfort during sex--and used a spermicide as a form of birth control--you may be allergic to the spermicide. The allergic reactions to spermicide can mimic the allergic reactions to other substances. You may need to undergo allergy testing to determine what is causing the unpleasant reactions.
For many women, intense and nearly immediate burning and itching sensations in the vaginal area are the first signs of a spermicide allergy. Men with a spermicide allergy will experience similar sensations on the penis. You may also experience pain during intercourse and increased general sensitivity in the genital area.
People with a severe allergy to spermicides may experience skin reactions on any part of their body which came into contact with the spermicide, including the genital area and hands. They may experience swelling, a red or pink rash or skin lesions (sores). Some people may also develop hives in areas that may have had direct contact with the spermicide. Repeated exposure to the spermicide can result in tough, leathery skin if you are allergic to it.
A severe allergic reaction can result in difficulty breathing or a sudden and extreme drop in blood pressure, known as anaphylactic shock. This condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Spermicides are often used with other forms of birth control, such as condoms or diaphragms. Condoms and diaphragms are often made out of latex, which is a substance which can create an allergic reaction in some people. Determining whether or not your allergic reaction is to spermicide or latex can help you avoid allergic reactions in the future.
If you find that you are allergic to spermicide, there are alternate forms of birth control available. Some people find that using a spermicide gel with a different chemical make-up or with a lesser percentage of spermicide can prevent an allergic reaction. Others find that they need to avoid spermicide altogether and use a different birth control method, such as the birth control pill or condoms that do not have spermicide included.