Condoms are effective 98% of the time… so what about the other 2%? That’s what we’re tackling here, to help you take charge of a potentially risky situation.
If you follow the tips below, you’ll be in the best possible position to handle things effectively and responsibly if the condom breaks.
Why do condoms break?
In rare cases – say, twice every hundred or so times – condoms rip, slip off or break during intercourse. Usually this is because they weren’t put on correctly.
Other major causes of condom breakage include lack of lubrication (especially during anal sex); reusing a condom (never do this! Only ever use a condom once); the condom has expired or hasn’t been stored correctly (always store your condoms in a cool place, and never use old condoms); using the wrong kind of lube (always use water-based), or using the wrong sized condom.
What to do if the condom breaks
Firstly, don’t panic. If you act quickly and responsibly, you can limit most if not all of the potential risk involved.
- Get emergency contraception if you’re not on birth control: This can work for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, but the sooner you take it, the better.
- Get to a clinic: If you think you may have been exposed to any type of STI (and let’s be honest: whenever you’re having unprotected sex, there’s a risk of this), you need to talk to a sexual health care provider immediately. There may be medication you can take to help mitigate the chances of contracting an STI. So, don’t just sit around and stress. Get yourself to a doctor, gynae or clinic and find out what your options are.
- Get tested: Anyone who is sexually active should be regularly tested for HIV and STIs (unless you’re in a monogamous relationship and you both know your status). Once you know your status, you can make the most responsible decisions about your sexual health.
- Educate yourself: Read this incredibly helpful guide to the steps you should follow after a condom breaks, depending on the kind of sex you were having when it happened.
Get emergency contraception, STI testing and more at Marie Stopes
If you’ve had a broken condom incident, find your nearest Marie Stopes centre right away and make an appointment to come in and see us. We’ll be able to help you with emergency contraception and HIV and STI screening, counselling and advice.