Skip Nav

How to Tell If a Condom Is Expired

Yes, Condoms Do Expire — Sometimes Before the Date Printed on the Packageing

Conceptual of Sexual health product.

You might bend the rules with food or skincare, but when the expiration date in question is stamped on a condom — the only thing standing between you and a sexually transmitted infection or unplanned pregnancy — it's best you take notice.

"The materials used to make the condom break down over time," Kate Killoran, MD, an ob-gyn with Your Doctors Online, told POPSUGAR. That means they really do expire, typically three to five years after they're manufactured, though natural materials (like lambskin) don't last nearly as long. The same is true of condoms made with spermicidal lubricant. "The spermicide breaks down the material the condom is made from faster, shortening the shelf life by about two years," Dr. Killoran said.

But the date listed on the packageing isn't the only factor to consider when deciding whether or not a condom is safe to use. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that condoms be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. "Condoms stored in a wallet, purse, car, or other warm place exposed to sunlight can break down more quickly and be less effective," Dr. Killoran explained. If you want to carry one with you, the FDA suggests doing so for only a few hours at a time.

So, even condoms that haven't yet reached their expiration date can't always be trusted. "If it appears dry or cracked, or if the package is open or leaking spermicide or lubricant, it might as well be expired," Dr. Killoran told POPSUGAR. Likewise, ditch any packages where the condom seems gummy or is sticking to itself.

Finally, regardless of whether a condom is bordering on expired, you should take some precautions to help prevent it from breaking. While lubrication can reduce friction, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends water- or silicone-based lubricants over oil-based products, such as petroleum jelly or massage oil, which can weaken the material of a condom. Better safe than sorry.

Image Source: Getty / Boy_Anupong
More from POPSUGAR
From Our Partners
How I Coped With My Anxiety During My Senior Year of College
Should I Take Two Birth Control Pills If I Miss One?
Becca Meyers: 2 World Records 2019 Para Swimming Nationals
Russia Banned From 2020 Olympics After Doping Scandal
How Important Is It to Wipe Down Gym Workout Equipment?
Healthiest Baking Flours
The Best Birth Control For Acne, According to Experts
What's It Like to Get Dry Needling, and Does It Hurt?
Why Do Headbands Cause Headaches?
How Not Snacking at Night Improved My Sleep and Bloating
15 Healthy Holiday Dessert Recipes
What to Do If Your Menstrual Cup Gets Stuck
Latest Health & Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds