Do Condoms Expire?

opening condom with woman in bed
Although made of latex, condoms do expire, which results in their weakened strength and decreased flexibility thus making them more likely to break during a sexual encounter. Expired condoms may or may not still work depending on the circumstances of their storage.

Condoms have an expiry date printed on the box and also on the foil wrap, but the strength and flexibility of a condom depends more on storage conditions than the duration of time. In a cool and dry place, condoms will last up to five years. [1]

But if they’re kept in a place with excessive heat or moisture, the condoms will not last that long. Never store condoms in a wallet. Use a condom case instead. Upon expiration, the latex condom dries out and weakens. This makes it prone to failure.

An expired condom entails a series of risks ranging from irritation to unwanted pregnancy to the passage of a sexually transmitted infection. With a dry and brittle condom, men and women might experience irritation or rashes.

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After many years, spermicidal lubricants will lose their effectiveness and possibly irritate the user or his partner. In addition to irritation, the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rises, as well.

With the use of an expired condom, the likely event of a breakage can lead to pregnancy. An expired condom can have small holes or rips [2], which permit the passage of sperm into the vagina leading to conception.

Finally, a weakened expired condom puts both partners at a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections. Unable to prevent the sharing of bodily fluids, the condom no longer becomes effective against the spread of HIV and other diseases or infections.

Despite these risks, both partners will benefit from the use of an expired condom when compared to no condom at all. If sex must occur and no newer condoms can be procured, the expired condom will work better than nothing.

If the condom has been stored in a cool and dry place, an expired condom might still have most of its strength and flexibility. If stored improperly in heat and humidity, the condom might have lost its durability long before the printed expiration date.



Image: Bigstock

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