The CDC warning shows that enough people re-use condoms. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A condom is not a complex piece of machinery. It is also not underwear. But apparently enough people don't understand how to use condoms and reuse and wash condoms that the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) felt compelled to issue the following warning:

We say it because people do it: Don't wash or reuse #condoms! Use a fresh one for each #sex act.

— CDC STD (@CDCSTD) July 23, 2018

Indeed, a review of the scientific literature revealed four studies showing that 1.4% and 3.3% of people admitted to having re-used the same condom during an intercourse session. Note that these are just the percentages of people who admitted to doing this.

Re-using or washing a condom is like re-using or washing toilet paper. A condom is designed to be used exactly once. Not twice. Not 1.5 times. Not 0.75 times, meaning that if you remove a condom at any time during sex, you are putting you and your partner at risk. Washing a condom in any way can compromise its integrity, meaning the physical and not moral integrity. Soap and water will not remove or kill all the microorganisms such as HIV or hepatitis C that may be on the condom after sex. You should never use a condom unless it is in its original, intact packaging. In other words, if you find a condom on the street, don't use it.

Why then would anyone re-use a condom? Here are some possible reasons:

  • The cost:  With condoms costing on average only fifty cents to a dollar in the U.S., you would think that even George Costanza would be willing to shell out the extra coins to get more condoms. However, condoms are not always so inexpensive. For example, as Anatoly Kurmanaev and Andrew Rosati reported in 2015 for Bloomberg, economic conditions and short supply in Venezuela led to condom packs costing as high as $755.
  • No more condoms available: Many parts of the world have been facing condom shortages. For example, New Zealand has been dealing with a shortage o

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