Why the CDC is telling people not to reuse condoms

Reuse condomsCC: Hans at Pixabay

Every so often a headline will hit the health news that is so common sense, it seems unnecessary. Lately the CDC is reminding the world to not reuse condoms. Unfortunately, a quick look at the history of public health tells us that government agencies only make such announcements if they’re necessary. As such, it’s safe to assume that people are washing their condoms so they can use them again.

Washing a used condom isn’t just a bit gross. It can result in unplanned pregnancies and a higher risk of STDs. If you’re curious as to why it’s such a bad idea to reuse condoms, read on.

When you wash and reuse condoms they weaken

All condom manufacturers state on their packets that their products are for single use only. This doesn’t just apply to male condoms; female condoms are disposable too. During the manufacturing process, brands such as Durex strike the balance between assisting with safe sex and providing an enjoyable experience. As such, condoms need to remain thin to an extent.

For condoms to fit comfortably, they also need a degree of lubrication and elasticity. Adding soapy water to your condom potentially kills off any spermicidal agents it contains. Additionally, it becomes less pliable, which means it’s more likely to tear. Seeing as the average price of a single condom is far less than emergency birth control, this isn’t an area where anybody should try to economize.

Your risk of developing an STD will rocket

Condoms protect against a lot of STDs, but might leave you vulnerable to pubic lice and genital warts. However, when it comes to other common culprits such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, it’s an excellent means of keeping you safe. In order for it to remain safe, you need to use it as soon as you remove it from its sterile packaging. That means no opening it and using it a few hours later, and you certainly shouldn’t use it more than once.

Let’s assume that some people are taking this questionable practice a step too far: using the same condom with different sexual partners. Not only do you increase your own risk of developing an STD, you may introduce one to partner number two. If you do want to practice safe sex with multiple partners, allow them to benefit from a fresh condom each time.

If the cost of condoms is an issue, there are ways around it…

Hopefully, those who choose to reuse condoms are doing so for cost reasons. If that’s the case, there are ways to use condoms each time without eating into your budget. First, you could see if your local doctor’s office, school nurse, or college health center provides freebies. If they don’t, investigate whether buying in bulk is useful. If you’re fortunate enough to live close to one, visit a Planned Parenthood center. Those guys give out free barrier contraceptives, so consider stocking up when you’re there.

On the other hand, if you’re reusing condoms because you didn’t know doing so is harmful, now’s the time to reeducate yourself. Consider reading more about barrier contraceptives. Or, chat to a medical practitioner who is in the know.

While the CDC’s statement is one of the funnier health headlines we’ve seen in a while, it didn’t stem from nowhere. Trying to reuse condoms comes with unpleasant consequences, so give them a little thought first.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.