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Are Free Condoms More Likely To Break?

Beyond serving as a go-to source for vital reproductive care, the folks at Planned Parenthood— a team of knowledgeable experts in medicine, sexual health, and law — are passionate, informed advocates for knowing your own body. Planned Parenthood is here to tackle the big issues.
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By Kendall McKenzie
"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.
RELATED: How Do I Know Which Condoms To Buy?
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.
NEXT: Everything You Need To Know About The Female Condom