When you’re in the middle of an exciting sexual encounter with a loved one, the last thing that’s probably going to cross your mind as you look for a condom is to check the expiry date – you’re probably looking to get the condom on as quickly as possible so you don’t spoil the mood.
But condom expiration is a very real thing. Use a condom that is out of date, and you could find that the effectiveness of the condom is significantly reduced, or worse, voided completely. So an expired condom can put an even bigger dampener on things!
So, why do condoms expire? Should you check the expiry date every time you use one? Does this have anything to do with condoms tearing or breaking? If you’ve got questions about condom expiry dates, then we’re here to help. Join us as we break down how long condoms last and how you can make sure you never find yourself without one that is in date!
Can condoms expire?
To put it plainly, yes, condoms can expire. Because of this, condoms always have an expiry date on the back of each individual packet, regardless of whether they were bought as a single or as part of a larger pack. Be sure to check the date of your condom stash regularly and before each opening. If a condom has expired, it may be at risk of splitting, tearing, or puncturing during sex. These kinds of condom failures affects how well the condom works to help prevent pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Why do condoms expire?
So, why do condoms expire? It’s not simply the case that the condom goes off like a piece of fruit. It’s actually to do with a complex process that results in the material of the condom breaking down, losing its effectiveness over time.1 Essentially, the more resilient the material used in the production of the condom, the longer it will last. How can you tell? It’s simple – check out the expiry date located on the condom packaging.
Aside from the material, how long a condom will last is also contingent on proper storage as even direct sunlight can have an effect on the condom. It is therefore important to read the instructions on the packaging and keep your condoms stored in a dry place, and you should only open the individual condom packs before you use them and no sooner.
How long do condoms last?
Condoms are given an expiry date based on the time when they were produced, quality tested and packaged. Check the packaging to see how long the condoms you are using last. You may find different types of condoms will have different shelf-lives. The important thing to remember is there is no rule of thumb here. Condoms only last up to the expiration date printed on their packaging.
Another factor that can affect the expiry date of the condom is whether the condom contains spermicide or other chemicals. Chemicals such as spermicide can damage the integrity of the condom, starting to decompose even in its sealed packaging.1
Regardless of what the condom is made from, all individual condoms packets should have an expiry date on, so all you need to worry about is checking this date before use. If the condom is in date, go ahead and use it. If the condom is out of date or no date is visible on the pack, then throw it away and find a new one.
Can you use out of date condoms?
We have eluded to this question already, however it’s something we feel we should really reiterate to ensure you don’t end up with any unplanned surprises following your night of passion. The answer to the question is fairly simple; no, you can’t use out of date condoms. Using out of date condoms would mean the quality guarantee and effectiveness of the condom is no longer valid.
So, how can you combat condom expiry dates? Sure, with different types of condoms having different expiration dates, you may feel you have all the time in the world to use the condoms you currently have, but it never hurts to keep your supply topped up and fresh. Why not take the opportunity to try something new and make your arsenal of condoms all the more interesting?
Why not try adding some of our Pleasure Me condoms to your collection during your next top-up? Sure, as always, you’ll still have to check the condom expiry before you use one, but the intense and stimulating ribs and dots will make it more than worth the wait.
How often do condoms break
Anyone who’s been there knows that when a condom breaks, it not only puts the brakes on your romantic sexual encounter, it can also be very worrying from a safety point of view. There are a number of reasons why your condom may have broken pre- or mid-sex. Condoms are designed and quality tested to remain intact during intercourse. They are made of natural rubber latex or a non-latex equivalent such as polyisoprene. These materials are designed to be waterproof, stretchy, and durable.
Condoms can split if they are not looked after correctly or if the condom is not applied safely and in line with the pack instructions.
Why do condoms split or break?
There are several reasons why a condom may break, some causes are:
- The condom has expired
- The condom hasn’t been stored properly
- The condom is the wrong size
- The condom wasn’t opened carefully
- The condom wasn’t put on correctly
Regardless of the reason, if a condom breaks before you use it, throw it away. If you discover the condom has broken after penetration – regardless of whether there was ejaculation or not, stop to put on a new condom (that is in date). A broken condom puts you and your partner at risk of an STI and may not work as intended to prevent pregnancy. Discuss the broken condom situation with your partner, and if either of you is concerned or worried speak with a doctor about next steps to monitor for infections and for the possibility of a pregnancy.
The condom has expired
As we’ve talked about at length above, if you’re in the moment and the only condom you can find is the one you forgot about, stuffed at the back of your drawer, make sure you check the expiration date before use.
We know it’s the last thing you want to think about in the heat of the moment, but condom expiration dates are there for a reason. You wouldn’t eat an out-of-date meal so why put your future and health in the hands of an out-of-date condom?
Once the condom reaches its expiry date, it won’t be as effective.
The condom hasn’t been stored properly
Your condoms should be stored according to the instructions on the packaging. In general it’s a good idea to store them in a cool, dry place. Leaving them stashed in a hot car or on your bedside table in direct sunlight, can leave the material susceptible to degradation.
To ensure they’re well protected, find a place in your bedroom where you can keep your condoms safely tucked away. If you decide to keep one in your wallet, don’t leave it in there for too long as the friction from opening and closing can cause deterioration. The last thing you want is for micro tears to compromise the effectiveness of your condom when you need it most.
The condom is the wrong size
Just like your favourite pair of trainers, condoms come in a variety of sizes to help make them fit comfortably. If you need a slightly larger condom, for example, you may want to try Durex Invisible Wide Fit Condoms.
A condom will not be effective if it’s too loose or too tight because it could slide off or split. Want help finding the perfect condom for you? Head over and explore our condom buying guide which has everything you need to know when it comes to width, thinness and lubrication.
The condom wasn’t opened carefully
This might be a no-brainer, but condom wrappers were not designed to be opened with your teeth, and don’t go attacking it with a pair of scissors either, no matter how excited you are to get the condom on.
Avoid tears or rips by opening the condom carefully according to the pack instructions. Simply open the pack by pulling the serrated edge. If the condom does rip or become damaged whilst opening the pack, simply throw the condom away and start again with a new one.
The condom wasn’t put on correctly
A condom won’t be effective if it hasn’t been put on the right way. The last thing you need in the moment of passion is for the condom to slip off. Taking your time to put on a condom properly is essential to help reduce any tears or the condom unexpectedly coming off. And, it’s not a good idea to put a condom on in the dark - you need to be able to see what you’re working with.
To put a condom on correctly, start by squeezing the tip with the forefinger and thumb of one hand so there’s no air trapped inside and then roll down gently with your other hand. It’s important to leave some room at the tip, otherwise you could create a balloon effect after ejaculation and the condom might break.
If you’re nervous or over-excited and have shaky hands (it happens to the best of us) get your partner to help. Want more tips for putting on condoms? Head over and explore our comprehensive guide on how to put a condom on now.
Still concerned about condom expiry dates or condom usage and worried that you may get caught short? To really stay on top of things, why not try reviewing all your condoms every time you add some to your night-time naughty draw? Sure, it may sound a little excessive, but it will give you peace of mind that you can reach in and pull out an in-date condom whenever the mood takes you.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use. RKT-M-06344.
- Mahdy H, et al. Condoms. 2022 Apr 21. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.