Let me break the news to you, condoms expire. Here's all you need to know about condoms and their expiry dates.
Like everything else in life, condoms do expire.
In general, most latex and polyurethane condoms will have an expiration date of about five years past the manufacture date, says Deborah Arrindell, Vice President of Health Policy for the American Sexual Health Association. It's mindful to make sure you verify the expiry date before use to avoid contracting STDs or worse getting pregnant.
Here's all you need to know about condoms and their expiry dates.
What are Condoms?
A condom is a thin, fitted tube worn over the penis during sex (male condoms) or inserted into the vagina before sex (female condoms). Condoms can help prevent pregnancies and STDs. They create a barrier that keeps semen and other body fluids out of the vagina, rectum, or mouth.
Expiration and effectiveness
Condoms do expire and using one that’s past its expiry date can greatly reduce its effectiveness.
Expired condoms are often drier and weaker, so they’re more likely to break during intercourse. This puts you and your partner at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unwanted pregnancy.
Male condoms that haven’t expired are about 98% effective if you use them perfectly every time you have sex. No one is perfect, though, so male condoms that haven’t expired are actually about 85% effective.
These figures will drop drastically if the condom’s expired.
The average shelf life of a condom is three to five years, depending on the manufacturer and how it’s stored. Read on to learn more about why they expire, how to determine whether a condom is safe to use, how to store them properly, and more.
Condoms expire just like many other medical products. Certain factors, however, influence why and how quickly they expire like:
Wear and tear from years spent in a pocket, purse, wallet, or glove box can work at a condom’s strength. That’s why it’s important to keep condoms stored in a safe place — preferably not your bathroom — away from heat, humidity, and any sharp objects.
The type of material you prefer makes a difference in how quickly they expire, too. Natural materials like lambskin break down faster than synthetic materials like latex and polyurethane.
Chemical additives like spermicide can shorten a condom’s life span by several years. Spermicide takes up to two years off the usage span for latex and polyurethane condoms.
It’s unclear whether lube or added flavorings affect expiration, so use caution. If you see any signs of wear and tear or notice an unusual odor, toss the condom and get a new one.
Even if a condom is stored perfectly, its rate of expiration is still influenced by the material it’s made from and whether it’s been manufactured with any additives that shorten its life span.