Most things have an expiration date, but there are some that we think about more than others. Take milk, for example. No one is going to pour a curdled, yellowish mix of rotten milk into a bowl of cereal – the smell immediately tells you that it’s expired.
But what about when it comes to condoms? In the heat of the moment, those little numbers on the back of the package are just about the last thing on your mind. The problem is, over time, the integrity of the condom deteriorates and it becomes essential to buy a new one as soon as possible.
Try keeping a mental tab on when the condoms expire by looking at the date when you purchase them. The real danger of running into an expired contraceptive is when taking one from a bowl of free condoms at a health clinic, or borrowing one from a friend who has made a habit of keeping them wedged in his sock drawer.
The bottom line is that the latex used in condoms can break down or become brittle after too much time spent unused. Most won’t expire for years, but you’re better safe than sorry. Each individual condom has an expiration date on the back, so just quickly make sure that you’ll be protected before knocking boots.
Remember that friend who stored the condoms in the sock drawer? That’s a better place than where some people keep them. Condoms can deteriorate faster if you store them improperly. Extreme temperatures are never good. While keeping a few on-hand in your car dashboard may seem savvy at the time, it can also accelerate the breakdown of the latex.
Most experts recommend storing condoms in a cool, dry place where they are unlikely to be too hot or cold, and there’s no risk that they could bend.