Condoms are one of the best ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs. In fact, when used correctly, they can be more than 99 per cent effective. However, it is important to ensure you are using a condom that is of the right quality and age. This is why you need to know that it is in date. How can you tell?
Check the date!
The easiest way is to check the expiration date that will be printed on the outer packaging. It is important to discard any condoms that have passed their expiration date because they may not be as effective. Their materials can start to degrade over time, and you may find yourself at greater risk of experiencing a tear when you are using one during sex. This puts you at risk of getting an STI or ending up with a pregnancy that you hadn’t planned for.
What other things should I look out for?
Remember that a condom’s expiration date is only one factor of importance. You also need to know that it has been stored in cool temperatures. If a condom gets too hot, the latex can break down and stick together, causing tears. Damage can also happen when a condom is stored in very cold temperatures. The easiest way to check is to do a visual inspection. If your condom seems sticky, dry or stiff when you remove it from the packaging, discard it rather than risk using it.
When it comes to storing condoms safely, keep them in a dry and cool place where they will remain flat in their packaging and not get folded. Trouser pockets or wallets are not good choices as they can lead to bending, tearing and breaking.
If you do experience a condom tear, you can get STI testing in London by post through a service such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/ or other sexual health sites like https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/. Many people prefer this to attending a GUM clinic as the service is quick, convenient and private.
Remember that when you use a condom, you must not combine it with an oil-based product, such as massage oil, oil lube, petroleum jelly, mineral oil or baby oil, because these substances interact with the latex and cause it to break down.