There are some things in life that seem to be common sense, but aren’t. Take condoms, for instance: People should know that they shouldn’t reuse condoms, but apparently it’s enough of a problem that the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention felt the need to tweet about it.
"We say it because people do it: Don't wash or reuse condoms! Use a fresh one for each sex act," the CDC wrote in a tweet, linking to the agency’s page on condoms and STD prevention.
Why you can’t reuse condoms
The contraceptive is up to 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and the spread of even the smallest sexually transmitted disease pathogens — and even other diseases known to pass through sexual contact, like Ebola and the Zika Virus.
But misuse of any contraceptive decreases its effectiveness — like if people reuse condoms.
"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," Dr. Elizabeth Torrone, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told BuzzFeed.
You can’t reuse condoms, so how should you use them?
Every sex act should include a new, unrolled condom, according to the CDC. That means if you have sex four times in one night, you should use four condoms.
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Each condom should be checked thoroughly for tears and holes before use — if there’s any question, ditch it and get another one. Each manufacturer includes instructions on how to use its brand of condoms, but generally the best way to put one on is to place the condom on the head of an erect penis and then pinch the air out of the tip. Then, unroll the rest of the condom onto the penis.
Since you can’t reuse condoms, simply throw it in the trash after sex.
Don’t reuse condoms — and other condom don’ts
Now you know you can’t reuse condoms, but are there any other things you shouldn’t do with them? Absolutely.
The CDC recommends against storing condoms in a wallet — the hot, cramped conditions can cause it to dry out and break. Always use a water-based lubricant with condoms, because oil-based lubes (like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly and cooking oil) will cause breakage.
And remember when your buddy told you to use two condoms at a time for extra protection? Yeah, don’t do that. Using two condoms isn’t any more effective than using one — and they can actually tear and break due to the friction.
While it might seem like reusing condoms is the economical thing to do, it’ll end up causing more problems than it fixes. Organizations like Planned Parenthood offer free or reduced-cost condoms. The CDC even has a tool to help you find these free contraceptives, based on your zip code. You can’t beat free.