Condoms are a convenient means of contraception, but it is important to note the expiry date before you attempt to use one. The shelf life of condoms usually differs based on storage methods, usage of spermicide and the material of which the condom is made. When stored in a cool and dry place, the average non-lubricated latex condom lasts for around five years while a lubricated condom will have a life span of only two years. The lubricated or spermicidal condoms have a short life span owing to the contact between chemicals used in spermicides and latex which accelerate condom breakdown.

Although all condom packs come with an expiration date mentioned on them, a condom may begin to deteriorate even before its last date. If you keep condoms in your wallet or any other place that exposes it to heat and moisture then its breakdown will be quicker. Using expired condoms is not just confined to unplanned pregnancy, but it can also cause sexually transmitted infections or just irritation.

Risk of using expired condoms

Once the expiry date is over, the latex starts becoming dry to the extent that the condom gets brittle. The elasticity and strength of the condoms decreases with time. If the condom is lubricated, even the spermicides start losing its effectiveness after the expiry date.

Here are some of the common risks linked with using expired condoms:

• Unplanned pregnancy: This is the most predictable and obvious outcome of using an expired condom. There is always a possibility of breaking or tearing of condoms as its material becomes brittle after the expiry date. You might not even notice that there are extremely tiny holes or rips developed in the condom. The holes can act as a passage for sperm to enter the vagina and cause pregnancy.

• Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Using expired condoms can also increase the risk of transmission of STIs. This is because the condom fails to prevent the mixing of bodily fluids. As a result, the bacteria, virus or the parasite can easily be passed on to your partner, hence increasing the risk of your partner contracting the infection.

• Irritation: As mentioned earlier, a condom which has crossed its expiration date may get dried and weak. A dried and weak condom can cause irritation on the skin of your sex organ and also in the vagina. It can also lead to skin inflammation and rash.

Therefore, to avoid the above mentioned complications make sure you shun the possibility of expired condoms by checking the pack before using it. Always open the condom pack vigilantly without using fingernails or scissors so that the condom remains undamaged. If a condom is brittle or expired then it will not unroll easily. In such cases, do not use force while opening it as it will anyway break during sexual intercourse. It is advisable to throw away old condoms and use a new condom.

Keep in mind few basic things before using a condom:

• Do not use a condom that is brittle or dried.
• Avoid applying oil base lubricants if you are using a latex condom.
• Do not use a condom that has an uneven colour.
• Never reuse a condom.

To reap maximum benefits, always wear the condom before your sex organ makes any genital, oral or anal contact.

Author's Bio: 

Joey Worrell has been writing on health related topic. This article describes about one of the popular contraception method condom. This article gives useful information on risk involved in using expired condom.