What is a lambskin condom? Well, it’s not made of lambskin for starters.
Charlie Sheen’s ex Bree Larson says the Two and a Half Men star never told her that he was HIV positive, and they only used lambskin condoms when having sex.
Sheen claims that since he discovered he was HIV positive four years ago he has told all his sexual partners and always used condoms.
But lambskin condoms aren’t considered adequate protection against STIs, only pregnancy.
So what are they, and why use them?
Lambskin condoms are one of the oldest pregnancy pophylactics around. They are actually made from lamb intestines.
Only one manufacturer still makes them, and they are much more expensive than latex or other types of condom. They account for about 5 per cent of condoms manufactured in the US.
“Small pores make lambskin condoms ineffective in protecting against viruses that cause STIs. But they do protect against pregnancy, since the pores are too small for sperm to pass through,” Columbia University’s sexual health advice website writes.
Journalist L.V. Anderson has written a comprehensive story about modern condoms that asks why the condom hasn’t really changed at all in decades.
In it she writes: “Lambskin condoms look quite a bit like sausage casings—they are thin, translucent, and slimy when wet… When I first held one in my hands, at a small condom manufacturer in California, I tried to break it by tugging on it and poking at it with my fingernails, but failed.”
In the United States, only latex condoms are allowed to be sold advertising that they protect against STIs.
According to the US Centre for Disease Control, the pores of “natural membrame condoms” are “more than 10 times the diameter of HIV… laboratory studies demonstrate that viral STD transmission can occur with natural membrane condoms.”
In the 1980s and early 1990s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, it was only latex condoms that were able to pass the tests set to determine whether a condom was effective.
The microscopic holes in the natural sheep membranes (the lambskin condoms) were too small for sperm to get through, but big enough for some STIs. They didn’t pass the tests.