Condoms in wallets: Safe?

Dear Alice,

I have heard that it is unsafe to keep condoms in wallets, since they can get broken or weak with all the bending the wallet does when you sit down. Is that true?

Dear Reader,  

The short and sweet answer to your question is that what you've heard is true! A condom stored in a wallet may be damaged by lots of action (even when the person carrying it isn't getting any). Condoms may experience constant bending and friction caused by sitting and moving, as well as long exposure to body heat, causing it to deteriorate. Generally speaking, extreme heat or freezing cold can make the condom brittle and weak (even if the condom is brought back to room temperature before it's used). Though the packaging and condom look fine when opened, there might still be microscopic holes and tears that make it less effective in preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Ready to learn more about conquering this condom conundrum? Keep reading then!

Condoms are best stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Instead of keeping them in your back pocket, maybe try to keep them in your bedside table. However, if you want to have condoms available while you're on the go, you could consider purchasing a small, hard case (such as a business card holder, plastic compact, etc.) to hold your condoms. Then, you can put the case in a bag or your jacket pocket, strengthening your protection from hazards such as heat and punctures. If it isn't used, it's wise to put it back into its typical storage location, rather than store it in this case. That being said, if you’re ever in doubt about the condom quality (e.g., condom seems sticky, brittle, or it’s past its expiration date), it’s best to throw it out and get a new one.  

A good practice to reducing the chance of using a damaged condom is to keep an eye on the expiration date and regularly replace them as they get closer to that date. In addition to proper storage, condoms are also most effective at preventing STIs and pregnancy when they’re put on properly. If you and your partner(s) are looking for other contraceptive methods, check out the Go Ask Alice! Contraception archives for more information.  

Whether you're preparing for the future or on your way to get some action, condoms can be a trusty friend when used appropriately; they can help take care of you, especially if you take care of them.  

Last updated Mar 12, 2021
Originally published Oct 12, 2007

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