Great sex calls for great condoms, that much is clear. After all, condoms help you spend less time worrying about safety and more time with your head in the game. But how much do you really know about a condom’s lifespan? How do you keep them prepped and ready for action as long as possible? To find the answer, we need to cover proper use, storage, and tips for maximizing the longevity of your condoms. Let’s dive in.
How Long Do Condoms Last?
Truthfully, there’s no single correct answer. With proper use and storage, condoms can last between one and five years. That’s a huge time range—up to half a decade! So why is there so much variation? Depending on the material and storage conditions, a condom’s lifespan can vary drastically. That’s why it's crucially important to understand the expiration date and storage instructions for your specific condoms. Feeling confident about the condition of your condoms involves considering a few key factors.
Like many other products, condoms come with expiration dates. Manufacturers determine these expiration dates after extensive testing. You’ll typically find the expiration date printed on the outer box or packaging, and on the foil or plastic encasing each individual condom. If you see two dates, one of them is probably the manufacture date; the expiration date (often abbreviated as “EXP”) is the most important one to look at. You may also find that the condom’s date is written with the year first, followed by the month and day. So, a condom that reads “EXP: 2028-11-02” would expire on November 2, 2028.
There are lots of reasons why you should never…ever use a condom you know has expired. Using condoms properly allows them to work at their full potential, helping keep you and your partner safe. But in case you need some extra convincing, here are just a few of the things that could happen if you use an out-of-date condom.
- Reduced Protection Against STDs & STIs: Expired condoms can be more prone to breakage, increasing the risk of STD and STI transmission.
- Increased Risk of Pregnancy: Expired condoms can be weaker and more likely to tear, potentially leading to pregnancy.
- Less Lubrication: The lube inside expired condoms tends to dry out, making the condom uncomfortable and susceptible to breakage.
There’s no need to settle for subpar condoms. Champ’s got you covered with condoms made with premium 100% natural latex that are rigorously tested for quality and safety.
- Latex (without spermicide): Up to 5 years
- Polyurethane (without spermicide): Up to 5 years
- Latex or polyurethane (with spermicide): Up to 3 years
- Polyisoprene: Up to 3 years
- Lambskin or sheepskin: Up to 1 year
How To Make Your Condoms Last
When you get down to it, faulty condoms are unsafe and they waste valuable sex time. Searching for a single usable condom in a drawer full of expired ones can take ages. And no one wants to reach for a brand new box just to realize the condoms have dried out from sitting in the heat. Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your condoms.
Check the Packaging
Before using or fully opening your condoms, check the inner and outer packaging for signs of damage. Is the outer package disheveled or torn? If it is, check the individual condoms closely for rips, tears, or punctures. Keep in mind that some damage may be too small to see, so if you’re in doubt about the integrity of your condoms, it’s best to grab some new ones. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case; even just a small puncture in the foil could have pierced the condom itself, rendering it unsafe.
While this method may not work for all condom packaging, many wrappers can be tested for punctures using the air test. Gently squeeze the wrapper between your thumb and index finger, feeling around for a cushion or bubble of air. Some manufacturers add this air into the wrapper to help protect the condom. So if you don’t feel any air in the wrapper at all, it could mean the package has a puncture.
Properly storing your condoms can make a massive difference in how long they last. They’re best kept in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight or any extreme temperatures. Some of the worst places to store condoms include a wallet, pocket, or a car’s glove compartment. All of these places are exposed to heat which can break down the condom’s surface, therefore making it unusable.
You’re better off keeping condoms somewhere like a bedside table or dresser; cool, dry, and dim environments are always a solid bet. But before you decide on a place to keep your condoms, be sure to thoroughly read the manufacturer's instructions. That way, you’ll be up to speed on how to best store them.
Open with Care & Check for Damage
When opening a condom, remember to be gentle. Never use sharp objects like scissors, knives, or teeth to open them; this could puncture or rip the condom itself. Instead, find the indicated edge of the wrapper and tear it carefully with your hands. Once you’ve opened the wrapper, take a quick look at the condom. Holes, tears, brittleness, or an unusual odor are all signs of damage. If you spot any of these warning signs, throw out the condom and grab a new one instead.
Condoms are an important part of having safer sex, but only if they’re stored and used properly. Without understanding how to take care of your condoms, they may get damaged and not last as long as they could. This damage may also put you and your partner at risk of STDs, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy. But as long as you keep an eye on expiration dates, read up on care instructions, and store them properly, you can help your condoms last as long as possible.