Why reusing condoms is a really bad idea

Condoms are designed for a single use, FYI [Photo: Getty]

There are plenty of things you can reuse: bottles, cardboard boxes and plastic bags. Condoms, on the other hand, are not meant to withstand multiple uses.

If you’re wondering why this needs to be said, it’s because Americans apparently haven’t received the memo.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning to Americans that it isn’t advised to wash and reuse condoms. If it sounds gross to you – that’s because it really is.

The CDC tweeted the tip alongside a link to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) facts and statistics.


“We say it because people do it: Don’t wash or reuse #condoms! Use a fresh one for each #sex act,” advised the tweet which was retweeted more than 1,200 times and has almost 1,600 likes.

While most responses to the tweet were of the amused variety, a health report from 2017 discovered only a third of Americans use condoms – and most of those who are using them, aren’t doing it correctly.

According to the NHS, condoms are 98 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy. They’re also the only form of contraception that protects against STIs.

Among the tips of how to properly store and use condoms, the NHS also states that condoms are only safe for one use.

“A condom must not be used more than once. Use a new one each time you have sex,” reads the website. “Condoms have a use-by date on the packaging. Don’t use out-of-date condoms.”

While it seems like common sense, the recent announcement by the CDC proves it may not be as well known as you think.

A report by Public Health England (PHE) reveals that there was a 20 per cent increase in syphilis in 2107. When it comes to STI diagnosis, 16 – 24 year olds see the highest rate of diagnoses. In 2017, PHE launched a sexual health campaign to promote proper condom use.

“Sexually transmitted infections pose serious consequences to health – both your own and that of your current and future sexual partners. The impact of STIs can be considerable, with some causing infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and harm to unborn babies,” said Dr. Gwenda Hughes, Head of STI Section at PHE.

Consistent and correct condom use with new and casual partners is the best defence against STIs, and if you are at risk, regular check-ups are essential to enable early diagnosis and treatment.”

In the UK, you can get free condoms from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries.

And while we may be laughing at our friends over the pond, the same PHE report states that in 2017 alone there were roughly 422,000 diagnoses of STIs in England.

Consider yourself warned.

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