How long do condoms last – Condoms usually last for three to five years. If they get old, they can become dry and not work well, making them more likely to break during sex.
If you use a brand-new condom perfectly every time, it is really good at preventing pregnancy and infections, about 98% good. However, nobody is perfect, so in reality, it is more like 85% effective.
However, if the condom is old and not good anymore, the chance of getting pregnant or infections goes up a lot.
You can keep reading to find out why they have an expiration date, how to check if a condom is still okay to use, how to store them right, and more.
How long do condoms last and why is there expiry date?
Condoms, like many other medical things, also have a date when they are not good to use anymore. Some things can make them expire faster:
Where you keep them: If you carry condoms in your pocket, bag, wallet, or car for a long time, they can get weaker. So it’s better to store them in a safe place, away from heat, moisture, and sharp stuff, not in your bathroom.
What they are made of: The kind of material they are made from matters, too. Some materials, like lambskin, break down faster than others, like polyurethane and latex.
Things added to condoms
Some chemicals, like spermicide, can make condoms not last as long. Spermicide can make polyurethane and latex condoms expire about two years faster.
We do not know for sure if things like lube or flavours affect how long condoms last, so be careful. If a condom looks old or smells weird, throwing it away and using a new one is best.
Does the kind of condom make a difference?
Even if you keep a condom in a perfect way, what it is made of and if there are extra things added to it can still make it expire faster.
Polyurethane and Latex
Condoms made of natural polyurethane and latex last the longest. They can stay good for up to five years, and they are tougher than some other condoms when it comes to getting old.
However, if they have spermicide, they last less, only three years. Spermicide helps prevent pregnancy but makes polyurethane and latex condoms expire faster.
Polyisoprene condoms are like latex ones. They can last for up to three years if you keep them right. However, if there are extras like spermicide, they will not last as long.
Natural and not made from latex
Condoms that are natural but not made from latex, like lambskin or sheepskin condoms, do not last very long. They are good for only one year from when they were made. We do not know for sure if things like spermicide or other extras make them expire faster.
Also, remember that these condoms do not keep you safe from infections.
Does where you keep condoms matter?
Keeping condoms in a hot and wet place can make them not work well.
Some people think it is a good idea to keep a condom in their wallet or purse all the time, but this is not good for the condom.
A condom when gets warm become dry, which makes it hard to use and might not work right. Instead of your wallet, it is better to use a special case for condoms.
Is it okay to use an old condom?
If you keep an old condom in a good place where it is not too hot or wet, it might still be somewhat safe to use. But if you can choose between an old and a new one, it is better to pick the new one.
If you use an old condom that has tiny tears or holes, it will not work well in stopping body fluids. This makes it more likely for you and your partner to get infections or have a pregnancy you do not want.
Is it better to use an old condom or none at all?
Using an old or torn condom is better than having sex without a condom because it gives some protection from infections and pregnancy.
Having sex without a condom does not protect you from infections, and if you are not using another way to prevent pregnancy, it will not stop that either.
However, it is best to throw away old condoms and get new ones. Using a new condom will protect you and your partner from STDs and unwanted pregnancy.
How to make sure your condoms work well?
Here are some important catching points which will tell you how to make sure your condoms work well while using:
- The best place to keep condoms is in a cool, dry spot at home, away from things that can poke them, chemicals, and the sun.
- Do not keep a condom in your wallet, pocket, or purse for too long. All the moving around can make them not work as well.
- Very hot places, like when it is 104°F (40°C), make the latex sticky or weak. So, do not put condoms where the temperature changes a lot, like near a window, heater, or in your car.
- Sunlight can damage condoms in just a few hours.
- Check the date on your condoms and use them before that date comes.
- Before you use a condom, make sure there are no holes in the wrapper. Squeeze it and see if there are little air bubbles. If there are, do not use it.
In this article, we understand the fact how long do condoms last. An old condom is far better than using no condom, but for the best protection against infections and pregnancy, you should use a condom that’s stored well, has not expired, and is used correctly. This kind of condom can be about 98 percent effective.
Having emergency contraception (EC) available just in case is a good idea. EC is not meant to be your main way to prevent pregnancy, but it can help if you have to use an old condom or if the condom breaks.
Using another way to prevent pregnancy can also lower the chance of getting pregnant when using a condom.