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Please Stop Doing This To Condoms, Warn US Health Officials


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Moral of the story, once again: condoms are good, just don’t wash and/or reuse them. Expensive/Shutterstock

Public health authorities in the US have a message for us all: please, for the love of god, don’t reuse condoms. Not even once.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a tweet last week urging the public not to wash or reuse condoms, alongside a link to information on how to correctly use them.


"We say it because people do it: Don't wash or reuse condoms! Use a fresh one for each sex act," the CDC STD Twitter account posted on July 24.

For one reason or another – primarily a lack of sex education and the taboo nature of the subject – there appears to be a lot of misinformation about condoms out there.

If correctly used, condoms are 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI). However, that’s only if they are used appropriately. With each re-use of a condom, the odds of them failing to protect you become all the more likely. Even if washed with antibacterial soap, a used condom will not be perfectly sterile and it could harbor all manner of nasty bacteria and viruses. Washing a condom will also massively increase the risk of it splitting during sex, which is definitely not ideal.


A worldwide meta-analysis of condom-use identifies at least 14 common ways in which condoms are wrongly used. Shockingly, between 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent of the study's respondents had re-used a condom at some point.


On top of that, up to 51 percent of people reported putting a condom on after intercourse has already begun and 44 percent reported taking it off before intercourse was over. Other common sins involved not checking the condom for tears before applying, failing to remove air from the condom, or using the wrong types of oily lubricant.

There's not much specific research on why people are so clueless about condoms, however, a lack of science-based sex education and awareness are likely to be huge contributing factors.

The cost of condoms varies wildly around the world, which could also help explain the issue. Condoms in the US cost anywhere between 50 cents to a few dollars, however, it’s not always as cheap in developing countries. On older study from 1991 found that the price of a year's supply of condoms in six countries – Burundi, Burma, Togo, Ethiopia, Mali, and Madagascar – is around 25 percent of the per capita income.

Certainly, things have improved over the past few decades, with condoms becoming increasingly more accessible across the world. However, many countries still face challenges. Back in 2015, when Venezuela's economy was hit hard by a collapse in oil prices, a 36-pack of condoms cost around $755, Bloomberg reports.


Anyway, the moral of the story, once again: condoms are good, just don’t wash and/or reuse them. Please.


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