The use of the male latex condom is one of the most effective methods against the transmission of STDs, as well as pregnancy prevention. Unfortunately, condoms do not provide 100% protection and can sometimes fail.
Why Condoms Break
One of the most common forms of condom failure is condom breakage. Condoms can break due to a variety of reasons, such as:
- Improper Application - In many situations, condoms break because users put them on improperly. Review the proper way to put on a condom, and make sure you follow the correct steps every time you have intercourse. Avoid handling a condom with sharp nails or jewelry as they can tear the condom.
- Poor Fit - A condom might break because it is the wrong size. Condoms come in small, medium, and large sizes to fit most men. Making sure your condom is the appropriate size, and fit will ensure safety and comfort.
- Insufficient or Improper Lubrication - Excess friction can cause a condom to break. Using a lubricant during sex can reduce the amount of friction. There are many varieties of lubricants, and some work better with specific kinds of condoms. However, always use water and silicone based lubricants instead of oil based. Oil-based lubricants wear on condoms and can cause condoms to tear or break.
- Excessive Condom Use – A single, properly applied condom is enough. Wearing multiple condoms or using a male condom and a female condom in the same encounter can lead to condom breakage and slippage.
- Improper Storage - Condoms should be properly stored in a cool, dry location, away from direct sunlight. Be sure to check the expiration dates on the condom box. Old condoms are at high risk of material deterioration and breakage.
Click here to read the STDAware blog piece about proper condom use and STDs.
My Condom Broke! Now What?
Whatever the reason might be, having a condom break is a stressful situation for all parties involved. Many people aren’t sure how to react, or what to do next.
STDAware has compiled a list of the top 3 tips to prepare you for what to do if the condom breaks while you are having sex. They are:
- Stay Calm
- Assess The Risk Factors
- Get Tested
We’ll say it again. Stay calm. If you are having sex and feel the condom break or slip, stop immediately. Check to see the status of the condom (where it has broken or how far down it has slipped). If you choose to continue having sex, take off the broken or slipped condom and put on a new one. It is common for couples not to realize the condom has failed until after intercourse. In either instance, you will want to assess the risk factors specific to the type of sexual activity you were engaged in when the common broke.
Assess The Risk Factors
- Vaginal: In cases of unprotected vaginal intercourse, there is the risk of pregnancy AND STD transmission. Certain STDs pose particular risks in women as opposed to men due to the female anatomy and the way specific STDs manifest in the female body versus the male body.
- Oral: Unprotected oral sex poses a high risk of STD transmission. The STDs that are commonly transmitted through oral sex include herpes (HSV-1 & HSV-2), gonorrhea, syphilis, and HPV (Genital Warts). Each of these STD viruses can be prevented with the proper use of a condom or dental dam, as well as by avoiding oral sex during a herpes or cold sore outbreak.
- Anal: Unprotected anal sex is the riskiest sexual behavior for getting and transmitting HIV for both men and women1. The medical studies show that the “bottom” (person receiving penetration of the anus) partner is 13x more likely to get infected than the “top” (person giving penetration to the anus), due to the nature of how HIV enters the body.
If left untreated, many STDs can cause additional health complications including damage to the internal organs, nervous system, reproductive system, liver and kidney failure, increased risk of certain types of cancers, and, in severe cases, death.
All forms of sexual activity come with a risk of transmitting and contracting an STD. A correctly used condom provides 98% protection from most STDs. If a condom breaks during sex the level of protection significantly decreases.
If the condom breaks and you are in a relationship with someone who you know is managing and incurable STD (such as Herpes, HIV, Hepatitis B, Genital Warts) it is vital to be tested as soon as possible so that your own disease management can be started. In general, the quicker someone can identify an STD the easier it is to manage and minimize.
If the condom breaks and you are in a new relationship, and the subject of medical history and STDs has not been brought up yet, both partners should be tested for a full panel of STDs. This allows any infection to be treated in both parties at the same time and eliminates the repeated transmission and re-infection of both parties, and any subsequent partner(s).
In situations where there is a risk of HIV, a doctor may recommend Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is an anti-retroviral medication treatment used to stop HIV from establishing itself in the human body. These medications are the same as those used when treating individuals who are HIV-positive. This treatment is only effective if started within 72 hours of suspected exposure and continued for 28 days.
The only way to know if you have an STD is to GET TESTED.
STDAware makes getting tested quick, easy, and accessible. To learn more about how STDAware testing works, click here.
Talking About STDs
Speaking with your sexual partner(s) or potential sexual partner(s) can feel awkward at best. But the benefit of having a mature and honest discussion about sexual and medical history and your requirements for safe sex will far out way the risk of potentially ending up with an incurable disease. Even if you are in a casual and non-committed relationship, having a matter of fact conversation about STD testing is in everyone’s best interest. In some states, failure to disclose STD status is a criminal offense. Many states require that individuals inform their sexual partners of their medical history, especially as pertains to HIV (the deadly autoimmune disorder that leads to AIDS).
A critical component in maintaining and defending your sexual health is to request that both you and your partner are tested for STDs before having a sexual relationship. This ensures that any existing STD conditions are remedied or managed and provides peace of mind before you have sex together.
STDAware offers no-cost medical consultations for anyone who tests positive for having an STD. To learn more about the no-cost counseling and prescription services provided by STDAware, click here.
Any sexually active individual should be routinely and regularly tested for STDs as part of their overall wellness regime, and anytime there is a change in sexual partner(s) or habits. STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. To learn more about the testing and treatment options offered by STDAware, click here.
"Wrapping" It Up
It is a shocking and unsettling feeling when a condom breaks during sex. Staying calm, assessing the risks, and taking appropriate action to get tested are the key factors in reducing the spread of STDs.
No one wants to get an STD and you are the only and best defender of your sexual health and overall well-being. Getting tested for STDs anytime a condom breaks while having sex with someone whose medical history is unknown to you is highly recommended.
DEFEND YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH
The only way to know if you have an STD is to GET TESTED.
Medical and advice staff at STDAware is available to speak with you about your testing and treatment options.