Sometimes hearing the words “Oh F#$*!” during sex isn’t a good thing.
A condom breaking, slipping off, leaking or failing in any way can be a cause for major concern. Not only is there the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, but you could end up getting a sexually transmissible infection (STI). There’s even the chance you might infect your partner if you don’t realise you have an STI yourself.
The good news is you can greatly increase your chances of making sure this sticky situation never happens to you by simply knowing the common causes of condoms failing, and doing your best to avoid them.
Let’s have a look at some common condom fails.
1. Late application
The saying “better late than never” doesn’t apply to using condoms.
Numerous studies have found that not putting on a condom until the last moment is the most common condom mistake made by frisky couples. In fact over 50% of people admitted to only using a condom when they were mid-sex, rather than at the start of sex.
It’s important to realise that the condom needs to be on before any sexual contact between partners (vaginal, anal or oral). So the basic rule is if the penis is up (erect), then it’s time to put the condom on.
A lot of people would be surprised to know that the pre-cum fluid (the fluid released from the penis when aroused) can contain semen and STIs. Putting on a condom halfway through sex, or just prior to ejaculation (cumming), is unlikely to be effective in preventing pregnancy or a potential infection.
2. Unrolling the condom before application
Despite all those sex-ed classes we’re subjected to at school, up to 25% of people have reported completely unrolling a condom before putting it on. How people manage to get the condom on when it was unrolled might be fascinating to know, but don’t bother trying it yourself as it wouldn’t be correct and you’d be wasting precious time trying to figure it out. To put it on correctly, a condom should be placed on the tip of the penis before unrolling it – then, it should just glide down the shaft of the penis as you unroll.
3. Not pinching the tip
It’s super important to remember to pinch the tip of the condom, and keep it pinched with one hand as you unroll it down onto the penis with your other hand. Almost 50% of people forget to do this. Pinching the tip removes any air from the condom and allows room for the fluid (cum) to go during ejaculation, both of which helps to prevent the condom from breaking.
4. Putting it on inside out, then flipping it over
Almost 30% of people have started to put the condom on inside out. In realising their mistake, they’ve then flipped it over and continued to use it. The problem is that because the condom has been exposed to pre-cum fluid from the tip of the penis, that fluid is then on the outside of the condom and can be transferred to your partner. When it comes to condoms you need to get it right the first time. If you put it on inside out, throw it away and then start again with a new condom.
5. Stored incorrectly
Condoms need to be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat which would otherwise weaken them. That said, around 20% of people store their condoms incorrectly.
Some good places to store them are in a drawer in your bedroom, and then stash a few in your pocket or in your handbag before a night out. You should also avoid storing them in your wallet for long periods of time.
6. It was expired
Do you eat food that’s a month out of date? Didn’t think so. Well the same applies to condoms. Latex breaks down and weakens over time so when they’ve expired, it’s definitely time to throw them away and get new ones.
7. Not rolling it all the way on
Go all in when using condoms. Rolling the condom halfway down the penis means it’s very likely to slip off during sex. It may seem obvious, however, this is still a common condom error that people are making. In fact about 10% of people have reported starting sex before the condom was unrolled to the base of the penis.
8. Using the wrong lube
Yes, there is such a thing as using the wrong lube with condoms. Lube is available in many varieties so it’s important to get it right with condoms. Water-based lubes are the most suitable for condoms, and most silicone based lubes are also okay. Other types, like oil-based lube, massage oil or olive oil can react with the latex and cause it to break down. The result? The condom breaks.
9. Incorrect withdrawal
Around 30% of people have reported incorrect withdrawal after sex. Withdrawing the penis after ejaculation is an important thing to remember to do correctly. Don’t wait for the penis to go flaccid (soft) as the penis can shrink a little, and the condom may get loose and leak fluid. You also need to hold the rim of the condom when withdrawing to make sure the condom doesn’t slip off and get left inside.
10. Not using a condom
Lastly, although not technically a condom fail, it’s an important one to include – not using a condom at all! Over 60% of people aged 15-29 have reported they haven’t used condoms consistently during vaginal or anal sex in the past 12 months. If this sounds familiar, getting a sexual health check-up will ensure you haven’t been infected and if you have, you can get treatment.
By now you’re sure to have a good idea of things to do and avoid doing when using codoms. However, if you want to find out more, you can check out our condom page. Remember if the condom does break, leak, slip off or if you just plain forget to use one, get a sexual health check-up. If you’re in a girl/guy relationship and another form of contraception wasn’t used (e.g. The Pill or an IUD), it’s a good idea to get emergency contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Emergency contraception can be bought without a prescription at a chemist, Family Planning clinic or sexual health clinic.