Do Condoms Expire?

The lifespan of a condom is between one and five years, depending on the material it is made from and conditions under which it is stored. Many make the mistake of using condoms past their expiration date, but doing so may mean that you are not getting the protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy that you expect.

Close up of colorful condoms
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Why Do Condoms Expire?

Most health and medical products have an expiration date, and condoms are no exception. The material that condoms are made from is what dictates expiration dates, as some are more resilient to the effects of time than others.

Condom Type Est. Shelf Life*
Latex, no spermicide Up to 5 years
Polyurethane, no spermicide Up to 5 years
Latex or polyurethane with spermicide Up to 3 years
Polyisoprene (a type of artificial rubber) Up to 3 years
Lambskin, sheepskin Up to 1 year
*Shelf life based on proper storage. Individual product expiration dates may vary.

Latex or polyurethane condoms with spermicide have a shorter shelf life than condoms without it because, over time, spermicide degrades the integrity of condom material. This lessens its effectiveness.

In addition, the chemicals in spermicide can break down, so using a condom that contains it past the expiration date may lead to a burning sensation and irritation of the delicate tissue in and around the vagina and penis.

While not a factor when it comes to expiration, it's worth noting that non-latex, natural materials like lambskin or sheepskin do not provide protection from STDs regardless of whether or not they have expired.

Improper Storage

Aside from this, how a condom is stored can influence how effective it is. Heat and humidity can degrade the material in both the condom wrapper and the condom itself.

This may render the condom less effective even before its expiration date.

Where Can I Find a Condom's Expiration Date?

A condom's expiration date is stamped on both the outer box it came in and on the individual wrapper. The date is typically found on the edges of the foil wrappers.

Prior to using any condom, check the packaging to ensure it is not damaged/opened or expired. If it is, do not use it.

When purchasing condoms, it is always a good idea to check the expiration date, especially if you do not expect to use them all soon.

Can I Still Use an Expired Condom? 

Using an expired condom is not recommended. An expired condom may not provide adequate protection against pregnancy or STDs.

However, if the only options are having sex with an expired condom or having unprotected sex, Planned Parenthood recommends using the expired condom.

The one exception: condoms with spermicide, given the skin irritation that can occur.

How to Store Condoms

Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place, such as a drawer in your nightstand or dresser.

Storing condoms in these places is not advised, as it can shorten their shelf life and decrease their effectiveness:

  • Bathroom
  • Car
  • Wallet

What Should I Do With Expired Condoms?

While expired condoms should not be used for sexual intercourse, you don't have to throw them out. Condoms can be handy for other things.

Make Sex Toy Play Safer

One of the best uses of an expired condom is to make sex toy play safer. If you share sex toys with a partner, such as a dildo or a vibrator, you should never pass them from one person to the next without first ensuring the toy is sanitized and free of possible contagions, including fecal matter.

One way to do so is to "glove up" your toys in the same way you would a penis. The expiration date doesn't matter nearly as much when used in this fashion since there is no significant downside to a breakage (other than having to clean the toy sooner and more thoroughly).

Swapping out a condom is far easier than having to stop and sanitize a toy that you want to share in the heat of the moment.

When using condoms with sex toys, they should be put on the toy before use and discarded and changed between partners.

Protect Your Hands

Let's say that you drop your keys in the toilet or need to clean out a really yucky clogged drainpipe. If you find that you neither have a pair of gloves handy nor the time to run out to buy some, you can protect your hands by slipping an expired condom over your hand.

While this may seem silly, it could prove useful in such a time of need. Condoms are far stronger than most people imagine but, if needed for a tough job, you can double-up and use two.

Some people will even use them to protect their hands when mixing paints or plaster for art projects or preparing raw beets, which can stain hands.

Waterproof Your Belongings

Condoms are meant to provide a water-tight barrier so that fluids cannot enter or leave.

While this in mind, and in a pinch, you may find them useful for everyday situations like needing to protect your cell phone from moisture while on a camping or boating trip.

Condoms are extremely elastic and can easily something of that size. Just roll one over the item and tie a knot to seal it.

You can also use expired condoms to protect items that may leak (e.g., mouthwash or lotion) when packing for a trip.

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Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to use a male condom. Updated July 6, 2016.

  2. Planned Parenthood. What happens if you use an expired condom? Updated October 26, 2011.