Imagine this: you worked hard throughout the week and are interested in relaxing through the weekend with some company.
Being the smart folk that you are, you have a pretty supply of both condoms and personal lubricants in a dresser, right next to your bed.
However, as you draw out the bottle of lube, something strikes you: the bottle has been there for some time so it only makes sense that you check for its expiration date.
Sadly – the bottle indicates nothing!
There isn’t any express shelf life or expiry date stated; this must mean, in your heated moment, that there isn’t any.
In the absence of an expressly stated sell-by date, you reach the only logical conclusion available to you at the moment: lube (or the variant you have in your hands) doesn’t expire.
Or, let’s look at another scenario…
You are interested in going down on your partner and intent on licking, sucking, and passionately ushering them right into the gates of paradise directly.
However, while you are at the orgasm business, you want your mouth to taste – and feel good, and to make certain of this, have invested in one of the best flavored edible lube for blowjobs.
As you grab the bottle, you decide – despite the heavy passion building – to glance at the shelf life printed on the body of the bottle.
It stares back at you in an inanimate fashion: you are 3 months late!
Both scenarios painted above are likely to happen to you (or have already happened to you or a partner) if you are sexually active and are smart enough to invest in personal lubricants.
Both scenarios also beg the very important and intimately interesting question: do personal lubricants expire? Is it ok to use expired lube? Can expired lube hurt you?
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Do Personal Lubricants Expire?!
While many lubricant brands currently available in the market are in the habit of not printing the shelf life of personal lube on either the bottle or pack (giving the impression that the products don’t expire), lubes do in fact expire – irrespective of whether this is expressly stated on the product or not.
According to testing data available from the Food and Drug Administration, the shelf life of lube generally is between a year and three years from the date of manufacture.
If this date isn’t available, the date of purchase is standard inference.
This bit of information clearly rests the question of whether or not lube actually expires.
Now, that this issue is rested and you are certain that your little bottle of gliding assistance is good for between one and three years max, should you attempt to use a bottle that is well beyond this time on your nightstand?
Should You Attempt To Use Expired Lube For Sex?
Personal lubricants do not qualify as drugs: they are used externally and are ‘ordinary’ over-the-counter products that can be sold and bought almost anywhere.
However, they are applied on, inserted in, or taken into the most sensitive organs of the body to wit the penis and vagina.
For edible lube (used for oral sex), they are ingested in the mouth, wind up in the stomach and pretty much work in the same fashion traditional drugs do 🙂
For this reason, it is very imperative that we take a very close and interested look at some of the challenges that may arise from using expired lube.
MORE: Does Lube Make Sex Feel Better?
Can Expired Lube Hurt You?
Though not fatally, expired lube can hurt you and create a myriad of challenges for you that are likely to ruin the good moment you’re about to have (or having). Outlined below are some of the challenges to expect when you use a bottle of expired lube.
1. General Discomfort
Good, proper functioning lube does nothing to the genitals or mouth when introduced there. It is easy on the body and as a general rule, is as easy as body lotion is on the skin or lollipop to the tongue.
However, when it goes bad, begins to go bad or has clearly expired, personal lubricants present a general discomfort on the penis, vagina or mouth – where it is introduced.
Generally, this sort of discomfort is hard to describe or even adequately pinpoint. Often, it presents itself in form of general discomforts, hard to place.
Usually, though, a feeling that wasn’t present before the introduction of the lube on the penis or vagina is how this plays out.
For lubricants that are meant for oral sex, a sour aftertaste or a funny one that cannot exactly be pointed out is how it pans out.
2. Irritation & Allergic Reactions
Another possible challenge of using lube that has past its sell-by date is an allergic reaction and general irritation.
In this instance, it is not uncommon to develop mild-serious irritation on the affected areas; irritation that could visibly be seen.
This could take the form of rashes, raised bumps (closely resembling razor bumps), or a region that is so scratchy that you cannot take your hands off.
No matter the form of irritation or allergic reaction expired lube takes on your body, one thing is sure: it is embarrassing and ensures the highest level of discomfort.
It is well worse when the irritation and allergic reaction requires a constant scratch to provide some form of temporary relief.
Generally, these allergic reactions and irritation may last a few days to a week and on their own, go away provided you stop using the primary source of their acquisition in the first place: expired lube.
However, in some sad cases, some form of skin allergy or anti-inflammatory lotions may be needed to be applied to the affected places to get some relief.
If you had hitherto thought that infections in the private regions of the body can be contracted only by sexual contact, you need to think again.
While sexual contact is the chief means by which many infections revolving around the privates of the body (may) come to you, one thing is clear: a bottle of lube that has gone bad is equally as capable of causing you grief in this regard.
This is especially true of lubricants that are oil or silicone-based.
With this sort of lube, when the ingredients have expired, using them exposes you to a yeast infection. Even worse, for brands that have glycerin, you actually risk getting exposed to infections like bacterial vaginosis.
Why this is treatable, it presents so much discomfort and does not permit optimal sexual experience – at least during the time in which it lasts.
Seeing the dangers of expired lube, how can you tell if a bottle of lube is expired without an express sell-by date or remembrance of when the product was bought?
This is the focus of the paragraph right below.
How To Tell That Personal Lube Is Bad Without The Dates (Or Time Reference)
A bottle of personal lubricant may be presented for sale without an express expiry date. You, the buyer, and the end-user may also have forgotten when the bottle actually landed on your nightstand.
In such an instance, what is the best way to figure out that such a bottle has actually outlived its usefulness?
Below are four (4) fool-proof methods:
1. Funny Taste
Personal lubricants (especially of the edible variant) are constituted with flavors and preservatives to make them edible and an actual joy to swallow.
When, for instance, a strawberry-flavored lube tastes unlike strawberries or has a little off taste to it, then, without question, such lubricant is bad and should be discarded. Immediately.
It is worth noting that, even for lubricants that are bought new, this applies – especially for options without an express production or expiry date printed on the bottle.
It is also a smart thing to first take a minute quantity of the lubricant to a side of the tongue to ensure that it tastes as good as it should before full-fledged application and use (in the case of edible variants).
2. Funky Feeling
Sometimes, the taste of edible personal lube may remain the same even when the product is clearly expired.
When this happens, the product will maintain its taste while the overall content will take another funky feeling dimension.
What is meant by ‘funky’ is a feeling that the lubricant wasn’t previously associated with.
For instance, the product may feel unusually warm or cold to the touch. Or, if it were any of the aforementioned prior, it may ‘suddenly’ become lukewarm.
When this happens with your bottle, the entire product should be discarded and another supply option sought and got.
3. Irregular Consistency
All products used on the body have a physical, distinct consistency.
Some are jellylike; others fluidlike – like water.
Yet still, others are closer in consistency to paste…the list and realities actually go on and on.
The important thing here however is to pay close attention to the original consistency of your own bottle of personal lube and ensure, before every use, that it remains the same – as you originally knew it.
A bottle of lube that has changed in consistency from what it normally was is a major indication of the product reaching the end of its shelf life.
Again, if a bottle of lube, on close examination, indicates more than a single consistency, for example, the bottle shows a more watery concentration at the top and a jellylike one somewhere in the middle or at the bottom, the great chances are that such a bottle is gone. For good.
4. Off Odor
Finally, it won’t hurt to give your bottle of personal glide a quick sniff every now and then and importantly, before each use.
This is because a bottle that has started going bad may manifest any of the above signs, or may simply present an odor that is ‘off-tune’. This odor type is usually one that wasn’t part of either the product or the bottle before the strangeness came on board.
If you sniff your bottle of lube and perceive something off, then, most certainly, something is off: discard the bottle and get another.
Or, if this isn’t practical at the moment, simply rely on natural lubrication or another source of wettening and gliding things (in 🙂 )
Does Lube Really Expire: Wrap-Up And Final Words
Yes – lube expires and that period, for most personal lubricants, is between a year and 3 years.
However, to be safe from bad, expired lube, always check the sell-by date before use – or even better, right before buying them off from the sale shelves.
Also, it is a great practice to buy only small quantities that you can actually finish up within weeks or months, at most.
As a very important precautionary measure, however, it is also very important to check the lube before each use (if this is practical) or frequently (if you prefer this route) for consistency, color, strange odor and if the product manifests an irregular feeling in the mouth or feel strange on the skin, the best option is to dispose of the bottle and get another.