The cliché goes that when sex appears to be on the table, it’s the man who reaches for the condom from his wallet or back pocket.
He always has one handy, just in case. The condom in the wallet may be out of date, as it was first placed there in a teenage moment of optimism.
But it’s there. A man will never be without a rubber, so the story goes. But the thing is, you really shouldn’t stick a condom in your pocket or wallet, no matter how much of a cliché it may be. Your wallet and pocket (the literal ones, not euphemisms) are terrible places for condoms to be stored.
That’s because of the friction and temperature involved in both these storage options. ‘Heat, moisture, friction and light can affect the quality of condoms and make them less effective,’ Karin O’Sullivan, clinical lead at sexual health charity FPA, tells Metro.co.uk.
Both wallets and pockets tend to be too warm for condoms, as they’re nestled right up next to your body and its heat. When condoms experience heat, the latex becomes weaker, putting them at greater risk of breakage. Then you add in friction, and your condoms become even weaker.
A back pocket will deal with a lot of friction, when you walk, sit down, or store anything else in there. A wallet, with regular opening, will have the same issue, especially when your condom is smushed up against cards and cash.
You also run the risk of putting your condoms in contact with something sharp, such as your keys, which could create a hole small enough that you wouldn’t notice it.
A holey condom is not a safe condom. The wallet and pocket aren’t the only rubbish places to store condoms. You should also avoid keeping condoms in your bathroom cupboard (the moisture can cause damage), on the window sill or anywhere else in direct sunlight, in shoes and socks, or in the car glove compartment (again, heat).
‘Condoms should be kept where they cannot be damaged by strong heat, sharp objects, light or damp,’ says Karin. ‘Ideally, a bedside table, but it would also be OK to carry condoms somewhere safe in a handbag like an old sweet tin or small silk bag – not lying around at the bottom of it.
‘A separate compartment in your wallet could also work but take care not to leave them there for ages – past the expiry date. ‘Some condoms are also designed and packaged to be stored in a wallet e.g. more robust containers or packaged like a credit card.’