Are free condoms more likely to break or fail?

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Someone asked us:

My friend says you shouldn’t use condoms that you get for free from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics because they break easier. Is this true?

Man, it would make my little sex educator heart so happy to NEVER hear this rumor again.

I totally understand why people think free condoms are less reliable. Generally, free = crappy and expensive = quality, right? Not always. Condoms, whether you buy them in the drug store or get them free from schools, clinics, or Planned Parenthood health centers, are tested and FDA approved. If you use them correctly, they’re just as effective as ones you pay for.

So what’s the deal with free condoms, anyway? Who are these magic condom fairies?  The truth is EVERYONE benefits from safer sex, and the more people use condoms, the healthier the whole population will be. So government programs, non-profits, and health organizations buy condoms and distribute them for free, because that’s easier and costs less than treating high rates of STDs in communities.

You should, however, avoid condoms marked “novelty” or “for entertainment purposes,” which are not cleared by the FDA to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy. For example, there’re only two glow-in-the-dark condoms that are FDA approved (Night Light brand and ONE Glowing Pleasures), so steer clear of any others. And remember that animal skin condoms don’t protect against HIV or other STDs.

The one downside to free condom programs is there’s not usually much variety available. If you prefer a certain style or need a special size, type, or material (like non-latex), you’ll probably have to buy your rubbers. But if the free ones work for you, go ahead and use them with confidence. Just make sure to check the expiration date. What keeps condoms from breaking is storing and using them correctly, not paying more for them.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood