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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Question

I recently was strolling through the aisles of a local "dollar store" and was surprised to see several styles of brand name (Lifestyles) condoms for sale at the bargain price of $2 for a box of 12.  I have seen similar packages range in price from $6 - $15 in pharmacies, and individual condoms sold in vending machines at bars/clubs could be $1-2 each.  Considering that most items sold at these stores are typically low end knock-offs and/or items that are well past their "Best Before/Expiry" date, I was wondering if I should be concerned as to the efficacy of the cheaper condoms in terms of protecting against STIs and in preventing pregnancy.

Answer

Generally speaking, there is an expiry date on condoms that provides a reliable indicator of their efficacy. I’ve called Lifestyles and left messages with a representative a couple of times and haven’t heard back—I’m curious to know what their responsibility to their product is once it leaves the manufacturer. As you may know, it is not recommended to keep condoms in a wallet or in a glove box since heat and cold have an impact on their effectiveness and what a seriously discounted box of condoms says to me is, “Floating on a barge in the blistering hot sun off the Côte d'Ivoire for seven months”.

While doing research, I found the picture above online of a dollar store shelf stocked with condoms. As you can see, the hand written sign taped below reads, “Notice: Condoms Are Out of Date.” Though this grammar is correct, the double meaning implies another dangerous possibility.

If you are concerned Cheap, what I would do is research sexual health clinics in your area. Very often, condoms are free in their waiting rooms, along with female condoms (not always available) and small packs of lube. The Hassle Free clinic is one excellent option. They quite literally have buckets of them. http://www.hasslefreeclinic.org/.

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