You’re not the only one with a condom break on you.

In an older study, 7.3 percent of men interviewed said they had suffered a broken condom within a year.

In other research, 29% of men applying condoms and 19% of women applying said they had suffered at least one broken condom in the past 3 months.

Usually, when condoms break, they really Pause.

You will likely feel it break or see the damage when you or your partner walk away.

Having said that, he is possible for a condom to break without you realizing it – but try not to worry too much. This is rare, especially if you use and store the condom correctly.

It is a good idea to quickly inspect the condom when you put it on. Sometimes condoms break in the package or while they are being put on.

If you are the one wearing the condom, you can usually feel it breaking. There will be an immediate change in feeling. If this happens, tell your partner, remove it, and inspect the condom.

If you are using a dildo or if you are not the one wearing the condom, you may or may not feel the break.

In this case, it is a good idea to periodically check the condom while you are having sex – for example, when changing positions. You should be able to see or feel a pause.

However, many people do not notice that a condom has broken until they have finished having sex. This is why it is important that you check the condom when you take it off for obvious holes or leaks.

Microtears are tiny tears that are usually not visible to the naked eye and could still let viruses and sperm pass through.

In some cases, microtears can be a manufacturer’s defect, although this is extremely rare. Manufacturers pass condoms a series of tests to monitor breaks and faults before selling them.

Most often, a user error causes micro-tears. Common mistakes that could lead to micro-tears include:

  • use an expired condom
  • put a condom in the wrong way, then turn it over and reuse it
  • using a condom that has been stored in an unsafe place, such as a wallet
  • using a condom that has been exposed to large changes in temperature, humidity, or direct sunlight
  • using a condom without lubrication
  • using oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly, lotion, or coconut oil, which can cause microtears in latex or polyisoprene condoms

Even if the condom has not broken, pregnancy is still possible. This is because condoms don’t work all the time.

If used correctly, condoms worn on the penis are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. With incorrect use, their effectiveness drops to about 85%.

Internal condoms are 95 percent effective when used correctly, although this can drop to 79% if used incorrectly.

Take emergency contraception (EC)

If you have had sex in the past 5 days, you can take an EC pill, which delivers a high dose of hormones to delay ovulation and prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in your uterus.

They are up to the task 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy if used within 5 days, but it is important to remember that the EC pill works best as soon as possible.

Many EC pills, like Plan B, are available over the counter (OTC).

You may also want to consider getting a copper IUD, which is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy if inserted by a doctor within 5 days.

It works by releasing copper into the uterus and fallopian tube to cause an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to the sperm and eggs.

Determine where you are in your cycle

You can only get pregnant during ovulation, which occurs in a narrow window of 5 to 6 days each month.

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, ovulation usually occurs around day 14. You are more likely to get pregnant within 4 days of ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after ovulation.

Take an OTC pregnancy test

On the first day of your missed period – or when you plan to have a period, if your period is missing or irregular – take an over-the-counter pregnancy test. It will not be correct until then.

You will get the most accurate result if you wait 1 week after your period before taking the test.

Condoms are the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. But they not 100% effective.

Assess your risk of HIV and take PEP

Start by talking to your partner about when they were last tested for HIV. If they have been tested recently, the risk of contraction may be lower.

However, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes more than one test may be necessary to accurately diagnose HIV.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a preventative medicine that can help lower your risk of getting HIV.

If you think you have been exposed, talk to your PEP doctor as soon as possible. PEP should be started within 72 hours of potential exposure.

Schedule an STI test

You can get tested at your primary care doctor’s office, health clinic, or Planned Parenthood health centers.

Testing is often free or can be done at low cost, depending on the testing site, your income level, and whether you have insurance coverage.

Most STIs have an incubation period of at least 2 to 4 weeks, so talk to your healthcare professional about when to make an appointment.

There are a number of things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your condom and minimize the risk of breakage.

Make sure you buy the correct size condom

Tearing and breaking often indicates that the condom was too small.

If the condom slipped off during sex, it is probably too big.

If you wear a condom on your penis or dildo, it should fit snugly and not move freely. It’s a good idea to try out a few different types and sizes until you find the one that looks good on you.

Check the expiration date before using it

Old condoms are more likely to break.

Carefully open the packaging

Never use your teeth or scissors to open the package. This can puncture or tear the condom.

Make sure you put the condom on correctly

External condoms can be used for vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Check for damage, then hold the rim of the condom in one hand, pinch the tip with your thumb and forefinger, and roll the condom over your penis or dildo.

Internal condoms can be used for vaginal or anal sex. Get into a comfortable position, such as lying on the bed, before putting on the condom.

If you put it in your anus, remove the inner ring and push the condom in with your finger.

If you put it in your vagina, leave the ring in place and squeeze the sides of the inner ring together at the closed end. Then slide it inside.

You need to push the inner ring into your vagina as far as possible until it reaches your cervix. Place the outer condom ring on your vulva and hold it in place during sex.

If the outer ring enters the vagina during sex, be sure to remove it to prevent leakage.

Never use 2 condoms at the same time

Never use two condoms on your penis or dildo, and never use an internal condom and an external condom together.

Both are designed to be used alone. Doubling down will not give you extra protection. In fact, it could increase your chances of damaging one or both.

Use lubricant!

Using a little lubricant before inserting an internal condom can make it easier to insert.

It’s also okay to use a little lubricant on your penis before putting on an external condom, but don’t use a lot. This can cause the condom to slip off.

Also use lubricant on the outside of the condom. Just make sure it’s the right kind of lubricant. Use only water-based or silicone-based products, never oil-based. Oil-based lubricants can weaken the condom material.

Always store condoms correctly

Keep condoms away from heat, cold, and direct sunlight, which can weaken the material they are made of and increase the risk of breakage.

Moisture and humidity – like in a bathroom – can also damage condoms, so be sure to store them in a cool, dry place.

Never store condoms in your wallet. Friction can cause microtears.

Microtears might sound terrifying, but they’re pretty rare, especially if you use condoms correctly.

More often than not, you will know if the condom has broken – and that means you can quickly take action to protect yourself.


Simone M. Scully is a writer who enjoys writing about all things health and science. Find Simone on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.





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