You go to a pharmacy once in a while to buy a pack of condoms and then forget about them until you have to use one on a lucky night. All you know, in that heated moment, is that you're covered but are you really? Do you check the expiration date of a condom before you use it? What do you do if you find out that it's already expired? Well, you only have two options here--one, ya risk it; two, ya don't (there are other ways to pleasure each other than penetrative sex).
Let us now ask you, do you keep applying a beauty product on your face if it's past its expiry date? Well, there's your answer!
Condoms, like any other shelf product, have an expiration date for a reason. Over time, the materials used to make them like latex and polyurethane degrade and become brittle. They lose their flexibility and become prone to breakage or tear easily. What does this mean? This increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or you getting pregnant, says Dr Nerys Benfield, a gynaecologist from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center. And that's kinda the whole point of wearing protection now, isn't it?
However, using an expired condom isn't as bad as not using one at all. Dr Benfield says, "Despite all the risks, both partners will benefit from using an expired condom versus no condom at all." As it says on the box, if the expired condom is stored in a cool, dry place it may have a chance at working better than nothing, she says. Ideally, it's always best if you can get new condoms but if you can't, you know what not to do.
The same goes for non-latex rubber as well. Although, the shelf-life may differ with it being the shortest for such condoms. In general, most latex and polyurethane condoms have an expiration date of about five years past the manufacture date. Dr Benfield also reminds non-latex condoms won't protect against STIs.
At this point, the most important question you should be asking is how to know if the condom is expired or damaged. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Read what it says on the box before making your purchase and once again, of the individual condom on its foil packet before using it.
2. Besides double-checking the date, be sure to inspect the wrapper for any holes or tears. One easy way to check this is by pressing your wrapper. If you feel some air resistance, it means it hasn't been damaged.
3. "Once you open the condom and if it feels dry, has a foul odour or you see any holes, you should throw it out and get a new one," says Dr Benfield.
4. If you don't see an expiration date on the packaging or its illegible, it's better to not use it and go for a new bundle.
5. Don't keep condoms where they can be crumpled or bent such as your wallet, a smaller partition in a handbag or jeans pocket. This can damage them.
6. Condoms are supposed to be stored in a cool, dry place but your car's glove compartment isn't the right place. The temperature in your car may range from hot to cold to humid, which can cause damage to condoms.