How Often Should You Change Condoms?

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Many people think they know how to use condoms correctly, but simple mistakes can lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Using the wrong lubricant, putting it on the wrong way and not replacing it after ejaculation can all make a condom less effective.

Always check the expiry date and don’t tear the packet with teeth or fingernails. Also, avoid oil-based lubricants as they break down latex.

Expiration date

It’s not something we like to think about, but condoms do expire. “The material in them breaks down over time,” Kate Killoran, MD, an ob-gyn with Your Doctors Online, tells POPSUGAR. For example, latex and polyurethane condoms usually last five years from their date of manufacture, while natural ones made from things like lambskin have a shorter lifespan. And anything added to synthetic johnnies like spermicide, which is used in some lubricants and can also be found as an ingredient in a few condom brands, will make them degrade faster.

The way you store your condoms, too, can affect their shelf life. Putting them in a hot place like your car can make them deteriorate faster than if you keep them somewhere cool and dry (like your nightstand drawer). The material in a condom can also break down quicker if you wash it or use it inside-out, so it’s important to always check the rim to make sure it’s on correctly.

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And even if you’re not concerned about losing a few bucks by tossing an expired condom, it’s still important to be able to read the expiration date, which is printed or stamped on each one and set by lab testing. The FDA requires all condoms to have a date to show that they’ve been tested and are safe for use.

Size

Condom size matters, and it is important to know your own size so that you can use a condom correctly. Condoms that are the wrong size can cause problems such as slippage or breakage, which could lead to a potential sexually transmitted infection (STI). If your condom doesn’t fit properly, it may also cause discomfort and loss of sensation during sex.

If you’re unsure what size condom to get, consult a condom sizing chart or use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your penis. This measurement should be taken from the base of your penis or where it meets your pubic bone to the tip. Once you have the size, check the condom’s length and width to make sure it fits you.

Most men’s penises are around 5.1 to 5.5 inches long and have a girth of about 4.6 inches. Standard condoms are made for this length, so they’re usually a good fit. If your penis is shorter than average, try using a snug fit condom for added pleasure and extra protection. If your penis is larger than average, a regular condom should work well for you. It’s important to note that some manufacturers use different measurement guidelines and terms when describing their condom sizes, so it is important to try multiple brands to find the right one for you.

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Lubrication

Condoms that aren’t lubricated can be painful during sex and rubbing them dry can cause them to tear. Most lubricants are safe for use with latex condoms but avoid products that have a petroleum base such as Vaseline because these can break down the material used in some condoms.

If a condom doesn’t have built-in lubrication, use a water or silicone-based lube that’s designed for sex. Avoid using oils such as baby oil because they increase the risk of vaginal infection and can break down latex condoms.

Always check the expiry date and make sure that you’re purchasing condoms in a sealed packet to reduce the chances of bacteria and other germs getting into them. It’s also best to store them somewhere that they’ll be safe from damage and tampering such as in a drawer or cupboard. Condoms can be damaged by heat, friction and even light so don’t keep them in your wallet or bag for long periods of time.

When you’re ready to use a condom, apply lube on the tip of the condom and then put it on before starting to have sex. If you don’t put it on before coming (ejaculating) you’re not protected from pregnancy or STIs so be sure to wear one until your erection stops. After you’ve come, withdraw the condom quickly to avoid leaking semen.

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Safety

Condoms are safe to use if you follow the instructions on the package. Always check the expiration date before using a condom, and make sure to use it with enough lubricant. If a condom feels sticky or dry, it’s not safe to use and should be replaced with a new one. Also, don’t touch the inside of a condom with your fingers or teeth, as this can cause it to break or rip during use.

Never reuse a condom, as this greatly increases the risk of infection with STIs, including HIV and herpes. If you’re worried about STIs, talk to your healthcare provider or visit a Family Planning NSW clinic for free STI testing.

You should use a condom for every act of oral, vaginal or anal sex. To increase the effectiveness of a condom, it’s a good idea to add lubricant to the penis before inserting the condom. Also, remember to pinch the end of a rubber condom when putting it on, so that about a half inch of space is left for semen.

Finally, don’t store a condom in your wallet or pocket, as this can increase friction and make it more likely to break during use. Ideally, you should store your condoms in a cool place like a drawer or cabinet where they’re less likely to get bent or damaged.

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