How Long Until a Condom Expires?

Using an expired condom can increase the risk of STDs and pregnancy. If a condom is expired, it may also be less flexible and lubricated, so it will likely break or tear more easily.

The rate at which a condom expires is influenced by the material it’s made of and whether it contains additives like spermicide. Condoms that are stored properly and haven’t passed their expiry date typically offer 98 percent protection against STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

1. Inspect the Package

Most condoms are made from one of three materials: latex, polyurethane or lambskin. Latex and polyurethane condoms typically last for up to five years after their expiration date, while lambskin condoms are the shortest-lived (and only protect against STIs; they don’t protect against pregnancy).

Regardless of the material used, all condoms can start to degrade over time, leading to them becoming less flexible and easier to tear or rip. This can reduce their effectiveness at preventing sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy, and it’s also possible that they could lose some of the lubrication that makes them work well when used correctly.

That’s why it’s important to inspect a condom before you use it, even if it hasn’t passed its expiration date. When you remove the condom from its wrapper or tin, if it feels dry and brittle or has a foul smell, it’s time to toss it and grab a new one.

You can also check the packaging for any holes or tears, which will reduce its ability to perform its job. It’s easy to do, too: Just press down on the wrapper and feel for an air bubble; this is a sign that the package has not been damaged. Also, avoid storing your condoms in direct sunlight, as this can also decrease their lifespan.

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2. Check the Expiration Date

A condom’s expiration date is there for a reason, and using one past its shelf-life puts you at greater risk of STIs or unintended pregnancy. Expired condoms are typically drier and weaker, which can cause them to break during sexual contact.

The date on a condom can usually be found on both the box and its individual foil wrapper. It will usually have a stamp that reads something like 2022-10, which means the condom should provide protection against STIs or pregnancy until October of that year. Some brands will include a second date of manufacture on the packaging as well, but you should always default to the expiration date when determining a condom’s health.

You should also check the packaging for holes and other signs of wear and tear. Expired condoms that have been exposed to sunlight aren’t as effective as those that have been stored properly.

You may also notice if a condom has lost its lubrication or smells funny, which can indicate that it is past its expiration date. Dr O’Reilly explains that the spermicide in the condom breaks down over time, and the latex and lubricant dry out. This makes the condom less effective and can irritate skin down there, which isn’t a great idea. Ultimately, even if a condom is still in its packaging, it’s best to pick up a new pack from the store.

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3. Inspect the Condoms

Expired condoms can still offer protection from pregnancy and STIs, but they’re less likely to work. Ideally, you’ll always have fresh ones on hand for sex. Check the expiration dates on both the box and individual wrappers, and inspect each condom before use. A condom that looks dry, brittle, or sticky is probably past its prime and should be discarded. You can also test for holes by squeezing the wrapper. If you feel little air bubbles, the condom is fine to use.

You might come across a pack of condoms at home that’s past its expiration date, or you may be traveling with them in your purse or pocket. While it’s better to use a condom that’s expired than no condom at all, a brand new one is more likely to work properly and offer 98% protection against pregnancy and STDs.

To figure out how long a condom is good for, subtract 5 years (for latex condoms) or 3 (for lambskin or spermicidal condoms). Then add in the date of manufacture to find the date that the package was made or purchased. That way, you can keep track of the lifespan and make sure that you have a fresh supply when you need it. You should also regularly inspect your condoms and replace them if they start to look dry or brittle, or if they tear or break while being used.

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4. Store the Condoms

Even if you’ve got condoms that are still good for use, improper storage can cause them to spoil and no longer be effective. Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place that’s out of the way of sunlight, heat, and other things that could degrade the material or spoil the lubrication. This is why it’s a big no-no to keep condoms in your car or back pocket, or in a purse or wallet that you carry around all day and may be subjected to wear and tear, as well as friction from other items like keys.

The type of material a condom is made from can also have an effect on how quickly it will expire. For example, natural lambskin condoms typically have a 5-year shelf-life, while synthetic latex and polyurethane condoms can last up to 10 years after their manufacture date. Condoms with spermicide, on the other hand, have a much shorter lifespan as these chemical additives can shorten the life of a condom by up to two years.

It’s also important to inspect your condoms regularly for holes, rips, and tears. This can be done by gently squeezing the wrapper and feeling for air, which should be present. If a condom feels dry, brittle, or sticky, it’s past its prime and should be thrown away.

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