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Condoms Keep Breaking

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear Condoms Keep Breaking,

Recently my boyfriend and I started having sex after 9 months of being together, the first few times condom didn't break but now it's broken 3 times out of 3. It's very frustrating as we are losing faith in condoms. We put them on correctly we'vd read instructions 100 times. I am on the pill but I still think he should wear a condom! Why does it keep breaking in the middle of sex (about ten minutes in) we don't use lube could this be it?


Dear Condoms Keep Breaking,

It is recommended that sexually active teens use condoms, as well as a back-up method of birth control such as the pill. Condoms and the pill will both provide protection against unwanted pregnancies, and the condoms can also help protect against the transmission of STDs (the pill offers no protection against the transmission of STDs). So you are making a healthy decision by using both!

When condoms are used correctly, they shouldn’t be breaking as you are describing. A lack of lubrication could definitely be a factor. Make sure there is sufficient lubrication as friction from too much dryness can cause the condom to tear. Just make sure you use only water-based lubricants (such as KY Jelly or Astroglide) as oil-based lubricants (such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, butter, mineral and vegetable oils) can wear down condoms and potentially cause them to break.  

Keep in mind the following, as well, to help ensure this trend of condoms breaking does not continue:

  • Long exposure to air, heat and light make condoms more likely to break. So:
    • Store condoms in a cool, dry place.
    • Keep condoms in their individual packaging until ready to be used.
    • Do not store condoms in your pocket, wallet, or glove compartment for long periods of time.
  • Do not use a condom that is past its expiration date.
  • Do not use your teeth or any kind of sharp object to open the condom wrapper because you might end up puncturing or tearing the condom.
  • Do not use the condom if you notice the pouch it’s in is punctured or torn.  
  • Do not use the same condom more than once.
  • Do not use two male condoms at the same time, or a male and female condom together, as this could cause friction that could lead to breakage.
  • When putting on the condom leave some space at the top to collect the ejaculated semen. If you don’t it is almost like creating a balloon waiting to pop. The trick to this: pinch the tip of the condom between two fingers with one hand as you place it on the head of the penis and continue holding onto it as you roll the condom down over the shaft of the penis with the other hand.
  • Make sure you are using the right sized condoms. Most condoms are made to fit men who about 4-7 inches when erect. If the condoms you are using do not cover the entire shaft of the penis or your boyfriend feels like the condom is too snug, it is possible they are too small – and that could increase the potential for breaking. The size of the condom may not be the problem for you guys, so don’t automatically go to a bigger sized condom without really considering if this is a problem. Using condoms that are too big can be a problem, too, in terms of them sliding off too easily and therefore not offering sufficient protection.

For more detailed information on how to use condoms, advantages of condom use, safety and effectiveness information and more, go to Planned Parenthood’s article on condoms. You will even find a list here of lubricants that are and are not recommended for use with condoms.  

If this continues to be a problem, speak to the doctor who is prescribing your birth control pills about it. He/she may be able to offer some additional insights. FX definitely doesn’t want you two to give up on condoms!

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