PSA: All quality condoms have an expiration date printed on both the box and the foil packaging. This, of course, is a fruitless effort by condom manufacturers, since most people using them are either distracted by the naked person who wants to have sex with them; fumbling wildly in the dark; under the influence of alcohol; or, more commonly, all three. After all, we’re talking about sex here — not milk. Who has time to read “use by” dates?
Unfortunately, however, this expiration date is actually super important: Using a condom that’s been gathering dust in your bedside drawer or wallet can result in both unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs.
To eliminate any doubts about when, why and how condoms expire, we spoke with Melissa White, founder and CEO of Lucky Bloke — a company dedicated to better educating people about their condom options. Here’s what she had to say…
When Condoms Expire
“Typically, latex condoms expire five years from their manufacturing date,” White says. “Condoms with water-based lubes, arousal lubes and delay lubes have an even shorter life span — just two to three years.”
Why Condoms Expire
Eventually, the latex begins to break down and the lubricant dries out. This causes the condom to become stiff, which for obvious reasons, increases the likelihood of it breaking during sex. “These are much more likely to break during use,” White emphasizes. Additionally, the effectiveness of spermicides dwindles after the expiration date. All in all, condoms just become useless at doing what they’re supposed to be doing when they expire.
Where Not to Store Your Condoms
Hot cars and keys are your enemies here. “You never want to keep condoms in your car (especially not in your glove box), in your wallet or loose in your purse,” White says. “Instead, you want to keep them in a temperate location, where they won’t come in contact with friction, pressure or sharp objects.” For those who must carry condoms in their wallet, White recommends the brand Unique Pull, whose condoms come in a protective wallet-sized carrying case.
In short, it’s worth checking the date printed on that “lucky” condom that’s been in your wallet forever. Because in the end, it may be anything but.