Do Condoms Really Expire?

Checking that the condom you’re about to use isn’t expired is probably not at the top of your list of things to do while you’re in a rush. But it ought to be. In order to prevent you from purchasing a condom that won’t fulfill your expectations, we’re breaking down the issue of expired condoms.

What materials are composed in condoms ?

Latex, polyurethane, or lambskin are the common materials used to make condoms. Polyurethane is a great alternative for those who have a latex allergy, according to Leah Millheiser, M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. Although some claim to feel better when using lambskin, the issue with lambskin is that it may not always stop the spread of STDs. These various materials all share the trait of having a finite lifespan. (Try LELO HEX condoms, which are offered by the Women’s Health Boutique, to meet your new favorite condom.)

How long do they last?

According to Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D., host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, “Latex condoms typically endure for an average of five years after manufacture date, BUT this can vary with lubrication and spermicide.” “The best thing to do is to check at the expiration date printed on the package rather than estimating how long they will survive. Storage is essential; if they are kept close to heat sources or strong lights, this may reduce their shelf life.

Millheiser offers a tip, though she acknowledges it could seem foolish, for remembering how long your condoms last. I always advise people to write the month and date of expiration on the condoms’ box or real packet with a marker to serve as a reminder, she says. The majority of men don’t actually check the expiration date or consider that condoms have a shelf life.

Why do they even require a date of expiration? It’s hardly quite food, is it?

According to Millheiser, the condom dissolves after a given length of time. This indicates that the condom is more likely to fail and rupture during sexual activity, she explains. Additionally, the latex and lubricant in the condom can dry out and the spermicide inside can lose its effectiveness over time, according to O’Reilly. She claims that these condoms that have lost their effectiveness might also irritate skin (and skin down there is NOT a place you want irritated).

Is using a condom that has expired really that bad?

No and yes. O’Reilly cautions users that using the drug increases their risk of contracting a STI and getting pregnant unintentionally, neither of which is a good thing. However, both medical professionals concur that using an old condom is preferable to doing nothing.

Use the expired condom if all you have is one, advises Millheiser, because there’s a chance it won’t break if that’s your only option. “You should test it right away, which entails filling it with water like a balloon and watching to see if anything leaks because you might not be able to see if it broke. However, if you have no other access to condoms that are not expired and you have to choose between using an expired condom or nothing at all, use the expired condom.