How Do Condoms Break?

white and red plastic pack

Condoms are easy to use, cheap, and offer protection against STDs and unwanted pregnancy. But they’re not perfect.

In various studies, between 0.8 percent and 40.7 percent of participants experienced condom breaks or slippage. But these mishaps are rare if you follow the rules:

1. Lack of lubrication

Condoms are easy, cheap and offer protection from pregnancy and STIs – This information was given by the service’s editor Velvet Seductions. But they only work if you use them correctly. That’s why it can be so frightening when you’re mid-sex and the condom snaps. That little snap could mean that sperm, bacteria and viruses are now able to get in.

Condom breakage happens for a variety of reasons. It can happen because you don’t use lube or use the wrong lubricant. Oil-based lubes like Vaseline, coconut oil or baby oil weaken latex and can cause the condom to break. It can also happen because you’re using the wrong size of condom. It’s important to experiment with different sizes and find the one that fits you best. Condoms can also tear if they’re exposed to sharp objects, such as fingernails, rings or piercings or if they get caught on something sharp while opening the package.

You can avoid condom breaks by taking a few steps. First, make sure you have a good grip on the end of the condom and that there’s enough room for your orgasm (it’s best to pinch the tip with two fingers). And never use more than one condom at a time.

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2. Overuse

Condoms are not reusable, and they break over time. You can avoid this by using a new condom every time you have vaginal, oral or anal sex. You can also use condoms as a backup method of birth control if you’re concerned about pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Make sure to always check the expiration date on your condoms, and throw away old ones. Expired condoms can break more easily, and they may have been exposed to sharp objects when you opened them.

Adding lubricant can help the condom slip on more smoothly and prevent ripping or breaking. But don’t use oil-based lubricants — these can degrade latex and increase the risk of tearing. You should only use water-based lubricants, like ID Glide, K-Y Jelly, Wet, Foreplay, or Astroglide. It’s also a good idea to add lube frequently, as your saliva can dry out during foreplay and intercourse. And you should never wear more than one condom at a time; this creates friction that can cause them to rip or break. This is especially true for anal sex.

3. Temperature

Condoms protect against pregnancy and many sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) including HIV, genital warts and HPV. However, they aren’t 100% effective. Studies show that between 0.8 percent and 40.7 percent of men who use condoms experience a break during or after sex, or a slippage incident.

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Using the right lubricant is important, but so is how and where you store condoms. You should never keep them in the glove compartment of your car, in a wallet or somewhere that’s hot, since prolonged heat can cause them to weaken and eventually break. You should also avoid oil-based lubricants, which can degrade latex condoms.

Keeping your condoms in a cool, dry place away from sunlight is ideal. You should also never store them near anything that can puncture the packaging or condoms, like keys, pens and other sharp objects. And when opening a condom, remember not to use your teeth! Doing so can create tiny punctures or tears that make your condom less effective. Instead, use a fingernail to open the wrapper or the slit indicated on the package.

4. Misuse

When people misuse condoms, they increase their risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This includes not using them correctly, storing them incorrectly or getting them caught on fingernails, rings or other sharp objects.

Condoms can also break if they’re not stored in a cool, dry place. It’s a good idea to keep your condoms in a medicine cabinet or on the nightstand, away from hot pockets and glove compartments. They should be out of the reach of children, too. Opening a condom pack the wrong way can also make it more likely to break. Avoid using your teeth or scissors to open a condom; instead, push it down inside the package and tear where there’s more space.

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Despite the scary stereotypes, condom mishaps are relatively rare. If a condom breaks during sex, however, it’s important to use emergency contraception. You can take an over-the-counter morning after pill, like Plan B, or an intrauterine device (IUD). The latter works best when used within 24 hours of possible conception. But if you are pregnant or suspect you might be, you should seek medical help.

5. Misalignment

Condoms are a powerful tool for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also called STDs), but they’re not infallible. A condom mishap during sex can feel like the worst thing that could happen, but it’s important to stay calm and assess your options.

The good news is that condoms don’t break much more frequently than they fail, and most of the time, it’s because of user error. Some common errors include putting the condom on partway through intercourse, taking it off before intercourse is over, or failing to leave room at the tip of the condom for semen. Other reasons for condom failure include using the wrong type of lubricant, using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms, and forgetting to check for damage before use.

You can minimize the risk of condom mishaps by practicing proper rolling, using the right type of lubricant, and avoiding sharp objects (including piercings) or jewelry. If your condoms are prone to breaking, try switching brands or trying different sizes. And if your condoms do break, call your local Planned Parenthood health center for emergency contraception and/or STD testing.

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