When used correctly, condoms are around 98% effective. With typical use, that efficacy goes down to below 90%. So what makes condoms less effective? Part of it is that condoms, like many other things, can go bad. So how long do condoms take to expire?
“It depends on many things including how they are stored, but with proper storage, male condoms can be effective for up to three years to five years, depending on the manufacturer and expiry date,” says Dr. Hana Patel*, NHS GP and GP Medico-Legal Expert Witness.
How long a condom lasts depends on what it’s made out of and how it’s stored. Latex and polyurethane condoms which do not contain spermicide can last up to five years when stored correctly, but latex and polyurethane condoms which do contain spermicide only last up to three years. This is because the spermicide can degrade the material the condom is made out of, which makes them less effective over time. Animal skin condoms are less effective because they tend to have tiny holes in them, and their estimated shelf life is one year.
Make sure that you check the expiration date on the condom that you’re using before you use it, as its effectiveness will partly depend on when it was made and how it’s been stored.