How Often Should You Change Condoms?

person holding white and red plastic pack

Condoms can break or tear and even if this doesn’t happen during sex, it can leave your partner vulnerable to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Always use a new condom for every act of sex and ensure it’s a good fit. Make sure it has a reservoir tip and if you use lubrication, make it water-based – oily products can eat through latex condoms.

Expiration date

Every condom box and individual condom wrapper has a stamp on it that has an expiration date. The exact date is on the outside, and varies depending on what material the condoms are made from. Latex and polyurethane condoms have the longest lifespan, about five years, while those coated with spermicide last three years. Lambskin condoms degrade a bit faster, with some types being good for just one year.

Expired condoms may not be effective for P-in-V sex, as they can be less resilient and more likely to tear or puncture. However, many people find that they’re still safe for non-penetrative sex, like playing with a dildo or a vibrator.

A condom is usually considered past its prime if it feels dry or brittle when removed from the wrapper or box, and if it smells strange or appears visually damaged. In that case, it’s a good idea to buy another package.

Even if you use your condoms regularly and correctly, they will eventually expire. Storing them correctly will make them last longer, but it’s best to get a new pack before they’re close to expired. Keep them in a cool, dark place where they won’t be exposed to extreme heat or humidity. An accessible bedside drawer is a good choice, or you can keep them in a small container that you don’t open and close frequently, such as an empty sunglasses case or a cardholder.

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Size

A condom that doesn’t fit correctly can lead to breakage, slippage and even a loss of protection. It may also be less pleasurable to wear.

Fortunately, finding the right size condom is easy. The best place to start is by checking the packaging for a condom sizing chart. It should have measurements for both the flat width and circumference/girth of the condom. The flat width is the distance across the base of the condom, while the circumference is the measurement around the shaft.

While one size fits most people, some men need a larger or smaller condom, depending on the girth and length of their member. The average man’s penis is 5.1 inches long and 4.6 inches in circumference. This means that he should use a standard condom size, but if his circumference is smaller than average, then he should consider using a snug-fitting condom.

In addition, some men have had gender-affirming surgery, including neophallus, phalloplasty or metoidioplasty, so it’s important to have the right-sized condom for them as well. Luckily, there are many options for transgender men to choose from, including both internal and external condoms. They’re available in different materials and styles to accommodate a range of preferences. They also pass rigorous ISO tests to ensure they are safe for sexual use. These include air burst and electrical penetration tests, as well as a visual inspection for holes.

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Lubrication

Many condoms have a small amount of lubricant on them, but this isn’t always enough. For women who experience vaginal dryness, this can make for painful sex. Adding your own personal lubricant can help to reduce friction, making for a more pleasurable and safe sexual experience.

The best lubricants to use are water-based. Oil-based lubricants like Vaseline, cooking oils or hand creams can eat into condoms and cause them to break. There are a range of water-based lubricants that are safe to use with condoms, and they are usually available in the same places where you buy condoms.

You can also get condoms pre-lubricated with a special lubricant that is packaged together or separately from the condoms themselves. This lubricant is made from silicone, and it helps to reduce the risk of condom breakage.

When using a condom, be sure to apply it as firmly as possible and don’t rush. Rushed applications can lead to leaking and increase the chances of a condom breaking during sex. It’s also a good idea to pull out the condom as soon as you’re done – leaving it on could cause problems, like semen seeping down the penis and into your partner’s crotch! This can increase the chances of an STI. If you notice the condom has broken during sex, it’s important to stop immediately and start again with a new condom.

Read also:  Side Effects of Using Condoms in Female Genital Area

Storage

Keeping condoms in the best possible condition reduces your risk of pregnancy and STI transmission. But what many people don’t realize is that improper storage can significantly reduce a condom’s effectiveness.

This is because a condom’s strength is affected by temperature, pressure and friction. This is why it’s important to store your rubbers in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and sharp objects. Condoms are also susceptible to breaking if they come in contact with certain substances like oil-based lubes or arousal oils that degrade latex, as well as if they have an air bubble.

For example, if you keep your condoms in your wallet, they’ll absorb body heat and be subject to frequent friction as you take them in and out of your pocket or purse. This can weaken the latex, increase breakage during use and increase your risk of getting an STI.

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep at least three unexpired condoms in your possession at all times, preferably stored separately from one another. That way, you’ll always have an extra to spare if you lose or damage a condom and need to switch to another. Keeping them in a safe, cool and dry place will also prolong their shelf life. Just make sure to check the expiration date and change them before the expiry time.

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