The Grapevine

Condoms Shouldn't Be Reused Or Washed, CDC Warns

Surely, adults don't need to be told that condoms are for one-time use only right? 

Well, apparently they do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took to Twitter recently to remind the public to never reuse the product. "We say it because people do it: Don't wash or reuse #condoms! Use a fresh one for each #sex act," they tweeted on July 23. 

While no data was provided by the agency, this literature review from 2012 may shed further light on it. In three studies published between 1995 and 2011, 1.4 to 3.3 percent of participants reported reusing the condom during the same intercourse session.

When used correctly, condoms have a high success rate in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease. 

"Incorrect use, such as reusing a condom or using more than one at a time, diminishes the protective effect of condoms by leading to condom breakage, slippage, or leakage," said Dr. Elizabeth Torrone, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.

Once a condom has been used, friction from the sex has significantly weakened it. This means it is more likely to loosen, tear, or slip off the penis during round two. Washing the condom can not only weaken it but also eradicate the lube, making it all the more counterproductive. 

"You should use the condom in the way the manufacturer has intended and tested — if you don’t, you cannot rely on the condom anymore to do those duties," said board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Alyssa Dweck. 

"Let’s say you have sex three times in one night — you should be changing the condom three times or before the next sex act," she added.

To be specific, even if you are having sex with the same person during a single session, you will need to use a new condom each time you engage in vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Even if ejaculation does not occur, throw the condom in the trash and roll on a new one.

There are a few other tips you should consider to ensure the effectiveness of the product. Purchasing the right size is important — a condom too small can risk tearing during sex while one that is too big can easily slip off.

Make sure there are no tears in the latex and remember to leave space at the tip to prevent breaking during ejaculation. In an additional tweet, the CDC also reminded people to check the expiration date as shelf life can vary based on the brand or type of condom being used.

While they are usually not expensive, Planned Parenthood notes that free or low-cost condoms are available at their health centers, family planning clinics, community centers, college health centers, or the doctor's office.