My Condoms Expire???
There are all types of condoms, manufactured with different materials and by different manufacturers around the world. And EVERY one of them expires. Condoms are a medical device and, as such, have a shelf life for both effectiveness and quality. Why? Well mostly because of the materials they are made from. Whether it is latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane, or nitrile, they all have a lifespan for peak effectiveness. After that lifespan is met, they begin to degrade. No different than medications lose their potency after their expiry date and food can go bad, condoms and dams are no longer at their peak performance once past their expiry date.
How Long Does my Condom Last?
Condoms usually have up to a 5-year expiry date from manufacturing depending upon what material they are made from. Dams usually have a 3-year expiry date from manufacturing. The expiry date is printed on the outer box or carton, as well on the individual condom foil or dam packaging. It is often printed as year-month-date on the packaging. So 2023-01-31 means it is good until January 31 2023. The Lot number is the number that a supplier or manufacturer can use to trace the product if there are any recalls or issues.
What Happens to an Expired Condom?
All condoms wear down over time. No different than any other material we use for our everyday products, they all have a shelf life for peak performance. Condoms become brittle and can break much easier when they are expired. This then increases your risk for STIs or pregnancy. This process happens quicker for natural condoms such as lambskin or sheepskin so make sure you are checking your expiry dates for all types of condoms.
Being proactive and prepared by always having a condom on hand is wise, but HOW you carry it about is important. Condoms are best stored at room temperature. Heat is a condom’s worst enemy. Storing your condoms in your glove compartment is not wise! Nor is having them loose in your purse or bag, where friction and sharp objects can damage them. Keep them at home in a drawer or cupboard. And not in a bathroom where the heat and humidity can also break down the materials. If taking one out for the night, make sure it is in a condom compact or place where it won’t get damaged. Condom foils go through a manufacturing process to help keep the condoms protected from damage and ultra-violet rays. But it is up to you to keep them safe from extreme heat and sharp objects.
Take Care of Your Condoms
If you take care of your condoms, they will help take care of you.
Don’t use your condoms if:
• There is visible damage to the wrapper
• You can see lubricant leaking from the package
• It is dry or brittle upon opening
• It is past its expiry date
• It smells bad
Don’t open your condoms with:
• Your teeth
• Sharp objects including fingernails
Always tear your condom open along the perforation that is on the foil as per the manufacturing process.
Make Sure To Use Your Condoms
Condoms are available at local Public Health facilities, many University and College Health Centres and Student Unions, Pharmacies, Adult Stores, online platforms and even grocery stores. No matter where you get yours, make sure you wear yours and that you are checking your expiry dates. Regardless of the different styles, brands, and materials, condoms are a part of safer sex practices.
So go and explore your condom preferences. Contact reliable sources to ensure you are getting the correct information and approved products.
Your sexual health is relying on it!