What to do when a condom breaks


Most of the time sex runs relatively smoothly, but every now and then a sex crisis occurs that makes it necessary for you to drop everything and fix it ASAP. Here’s how.

Sex Crisis #1: The Condom Breaks

Although condoms rarely break or slip off, sometimes you and your partner may end up on the wrong end of bad luck. How did it happen? Maybe you forgot to check the expiration date and you used a condom from your secret high school stash. Perhaps you two couldn’t wait until you got home, so you scrounged around your car and found one that had weathered extreme temperatures in your glove compartment – only to have it break moments later.

What to do when you realize a few seconds too late that a condom has broken, thus facilitating an unexpected exchange of bodily fluids?

1. Assess your pregnancy risk. Are you using a reliable form of birth control aside from condoms, such as the birth control pill, patch, ring or shot? Yes? If so, have you been using it correctly? As in, have you taken your pill every day as prescribed? Have you kept the ring in without removing it for hours at a time? Did you get your last shot on time? If so, then your pregnancy risk is fabulously low-to-no. If not, check in with your healthcare provider to find out how much of a risk your incorrect or inconsistent use of birth control has been.

2. Consider the morning after pill if your use of other forms of contraception have been off the mark, or if you’re not on other methods of birth control. It’s most effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex (condom breaks included!) so hop to! Learn more from a pharmacist, your healthcare provider or the Plan B web site (go2planb.com).
3. Assess your infection risk. If it’s been a while since either you or your partner has been tested, make a pact to get tested together or to at least report results back to each other. Check in with your healthcare provider to learn how quickly you can be tested for sexually transmissible infections (STI), as it will depend on which types of lab tests they use. In many cases, you can be tested for Chlamydia and gonorrhea within two weeks of exposure. HIV, on the other hand, is best tested for anywhere from 1 to 6 months after unprotected sex.

4. Make a plan. If you’re likely going to have sex with this person again, try to figure out what went wrong. Did you use an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom? Well, oil-based products can cause latex condoms to break so try a water-based lubricant next time. Was the condom too small or too big for your partner’s penis? Try to find a better fitting condom. On the other hand, maybe you did everything right and it was just a fluke.  However, if one of you doesn’t want a pregnancy right now, perhaps you should find a reliable method of birth control so that if condoms break in the future, you have a back-up method of protection.

Remember: sex crises happen to the best of us. Condoms – though a fantastic and reliable method of birth control and STI prevention – sometimes do break. If you and your partner know how to respond, however, then you’ll be in a much better position to reduce your risk and up your pleasure the next time around. More information about safer and pleasurable ways to use condoms, lubricants and other sex products can be found in my fun new book Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction (save money by pre-ordering it on Amazon).

Related MSP Posts:
- Are some condoms better than others?
- Myths about birth control pills and fertility
- Do birth control pills make you gain weight?

This article was originally published in my weekly Cheeky Chicago sex column. Follow me on Twitter - I am @mysexprofessor

[Image by jeb ro via Flickr Creative Commons]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.