Condoms are a necessary form of protection against both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, if condoms have not been stored properly or have expired, they can be ineffective.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what an expired condom is, what happens if you use an expired condom, and why you should avoid using them to stay safe.

Table of Contents:

What is an Expired Condom?

An expired condom has passed its expiration date. Most condoms have a shelf life or expiration date of between 3 and 5 years, depending on the makeup of the condom materials and the type of condom they are (with or without spermicide).

Latex condoms can typically last up to five years, while artificial rubber  polyisoprene condoms and polyurethane condoms tend to last three years before needing to be replaced.

Sheepskin condoms are natural condoms that have a short life span and are inadequate protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although their natural materials make them popular, they are porous and do not stop viruses and bacteria from passing through.

People who are most at risk of STIs should choose other forms of protection to ensure they are safe and secure during sexual activity. It’s essential to check the expiration date on any condom wrapper before use to ensure that it’s still safe for use.

What Happens if You Use an Expired Condom?

The excellent news is… your penis won’t fall off if you use an expired condom but there are other risks, such as unplanned parenthood and STIs. If you use an expired condom, you put yourself and your partner at risk.

It’s also true that you will lessen your experience. An expired condom will be dry, possibly brittle and likely to tear. All these factors make it very possible that you won’t enjoy your encounter, apart from the worry no one wants to feel like they’re getting a sandpaper rub down. 

Expired condoms might also give off a foul odour, which isn't great for getting into the mood, so always check the expiry date or work out the shelf life based on the manufacture date.

Why You Should Avoid Expired Condoms?

Using an expired condom increases the risk of breakage during intercourse due to the materials used in the condom breaking down over time. Breakages can lead to unwanted pregnancy or exposure to STIs if you don’t use proper protection during sexual activity.

Furthermore, expired condoms may also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions due to changes in the materials over time, even if you do not have a latex allergy. For these reasons, it’s important to avoid using expired condoms for your own safety, well-being, and comfort, as well as to prevent pregnancy.

Condom Life Expectancy

There really is no excuse for using an expired condom, as most condoms have a life expectancy of 3-5 years if you store them properly. There are some exceptions if you use lambskin condoms or vegan condoms with spermicide, but even these last for two years.

Maintaining the life of your condom is essential if you want to make the most of them. Click the link and read more about condom shelf life and proper storage tips.

Why do Condoms Expire?

Like most medical products, the materials used in condoms determine how long they will last and as they get older, they will become ineffective as the material weakens and is more prone to breaking.

There are preventions that can help to keep your condoms in better condition, for example, storing them somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight will help prolong the shelf life.

Does the Type of Condom Matter?

Yes, some materials will expire sooner than others. Latex and polyurethane condoms can last for up to five years. However, if they are packaged withe spermicide, the shelf life is reduced to around three years.

Polyisoprene condoms last for around three years but less if they have been packaged with spermicides.

Non-latex, natural condoms such as lambskin have an even shorter shelf life than the other materials.

How Can You Tell Whether a Condom has Expired?

As well as checking the expiry date, there are some other signs that a condom has expired, such as having a foul odour or if it is discoloured. The texture of the condom may also look and feel different and it could be sticky or dry.

Does Lube Expire?

Yes, lube also expires, so you should check the expiry date and look for any signs like a strange smell or a change in the consistency of the lube. For more details of how to tell if lube has expired read our blog.

Alternatives to Expired Condoms

If you find yourself with an expired condom, other options are available for preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs. Different types of contraception, like birth control pills, the contraceptive cap or IUDs (intrauterine devices), can be used for pregnancy prevention instead of condoms - but these are unlikely to help if you are unprepared.

For STI prevention, always use new condoms made with quality materials and check for expiration dates when purchasing them.

Ensure you store your condoms properly, so they do not expire prematurely - keep them away from direct sunlight and heat sources at room temperature whenever possible. Also, don't carry your condoms next to sharp objects that could pierce them.

You should also avoid using baby oil, massage oil or petroleum jelly with condoms, as these products can cause condoms to weaken, even if they have not expired.

It’s important to avoid using expired condoms to protect yourself, as expired condoms are more likely than non-expired ones to break during intercourse due to changes in their materials over time.

What Size Condoms Should I Buy?

As well as making sure your condom has not expired, to stay safe it is important that you buy the right size of condom. A loose fitting condom can slip off and one that is too tight can roll off and will be uncomfortable. Use our blog to work out how to calculate the perfect condom size to fit your penis.

How Old Should You Be to Buy Condoms?

There is no legal age restrictions for buying condoms but most retailers will have a policy to only sell to people aged 16 or over, and some have an over 18s policy.

It’s Not a Great Idea to Use an Expired Condom, but…

It is understandable if a situation catches you where you don’t have any condoms readily available in your home. However, instead of opting for unprotected sex, it IS better to use an expired condom.

The advice to use an expired condom may sound like a contradiction in terms, but although there will be a decrease in effectiveness due to its age and the chances are the feeling will be unpleasant, it still offers more protection than no condom at all.

The best bit of advice we can give you is to prepare yourself. Prepare for the best possible outcome no matter what you’re doing; click the link to ensure you have what you need for any occasion.

Dec 17, 2022
Written by:
Victoria Walsh