Can Covid-19 affect the supply of condoms?

Can Covid-19 affect the supply of condoms?

The Coronavirus or Covid-19 is many things but it is not a Sexually Transmitted Disease so it shouldn’t affect the supply of condoms, right?  Well, theoretically no, but times are just a little strange at the moment.

People are panic buying all sorts of products across Europe including non-perishable foods and toilet paper fearing a lockdown where they will not be able to leave their homes to go shopping.  The sales of face masks and hand soaps and sanitisers have gone viral (pun definitely intended) but recently, the sales of condoms have also gone through the roof.  People have been using them as some sort of surgical glove substitute, to push buttons on elevators amongst other things, supposedly to protect themselves from bacteria on communal surfaces. 

Social media has been circulating images of empty shelves in the condom sections of shops in Singapore and Australia.  And Facebook has been the destination for the usual mischievous internet antics where allegedly there have been posts encouraging people to buy condoms and put them on their hands to steer clear of Coronavirus.  On Twitter, tweets are being shared with images of people doing this.  So, will there now be a worldwide shortage of condoms to grapple with in addition to the Coronavirus?  This is just evidence of the increasingly bizarre behaviour surrounding this pandemic.

Panic buying aside, the Coronavirus is expected to impact on businesses and possible supply lines as workforces stay at home and the movement of goods becomes restricted.  There is also some suggestion that people confined for long periods in their homes or holiday resorts are amusing themselves in the most traditional way.  But, in reality, this is not really going to impact condom supply.  More probable is the indisputable fact that around one quarter of the world’s global supply of condoms is made in China.  Best stock up now then.

There is unlikely to be a shortage of condoms any time soon but what will happen over the coming weeks is that supply routes will change.  Businesses may have to source condoms from new or different markets because of trade restrictions.  There will be pressure to keep up with demand and this could mean inferior products appearing in the marketplace.

How to shop wisely for condoms

condoms are the only form of protection which can safeguard against unwanted pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STIs.  Here are some key facts to help you make a sensible choice when it comes to the purchase and use of condoms:-

  • Buy the right size, bigging it up will only result in a condom that could slip off.  Most online stores will have a size guide to give you an idea
  • Always buy from  legitimate pharmacies, retailers and online chemists
  • Try and avoid novelty condoms as these are often poorly made and not subject to the rigorous stress testing of other products
  • Check the expiry date on the condoms after you have purchased them – never use a condom that is past its expiry date
  • Buy condoms that carry the BSI Kitemark and the European CE mark, this is a sign that the product conforms to certain pre-defined standards and has been stressed tested offering a minimum quality assurance

How to look after your condoms

  • Never leave them in a warm location or direct heat or sunlight as this can compromise the integrity of the condom
  • Beware of keeping one in your pocket or wallet as they can become damaged over time
  • condoms can dry over weeks and months.  Check the packet by moving the condom around inside it, it should slide around easily with the lube.  If it doesn’t then discard it
  • Always open the packet with care – never rip the condom packaging with your fingernails or your teeth as this can damage the condom within
  • Always use a water-based lube with your condom, oil-based products can weaken the structure of the latex.  Remember, this can include body moisturisers and lipstick as well

If you think your condom looks a bit suspect or the packet is within date but seems old and battered then just don’t use it.  For probably around £1 you can use a new, fresh condom instead.  And if you want to protect yourself from Coronavirus when out and about then surgical gloves are a far better option – I mean think of all that sticky lube on the elevator number pad!

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

I'm Stuart, senior Editor at British Condoms. I am an expert in all areas of sexual health and have a passion to drive knowledge to youth in the UK. Any questions for me or media enquiries, please feel free to tweet me @britishcondoms. Always open to engagement.

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