What to Know About a Broken Condom

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on April 27, 2022
4 min read

Condoms make oral, vaginal, or anal sex safer. Condoms are a reliable form of contraceptive that helps prevent infections and pregnancies. But sometimes a condom may break, exposing you to the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or the chance of becoming pregnant.   

When used correctly, condoms are one of the most effective forms of contraception. There are two general types of condoms:

1.External condoms. These are condoms that go over a penis, and are sometimes called "male condoms." They are made of different types of materials like latex, plastic, and lambskin.  

2.Internal condoms. These condoms can be inserted into the vagina or anus, and are often called "female condoms."

The most common materials used to make condoms include: 

  • Latex. Latex condoms are the most common type of condoms. 
  • Plastic (synthetic rubber). Plastic rubber condoms break more often than latex condoms. This is a good option for people with latex allergies. 
  • Animal skin. These are natural condoms usually made of lambskin. Natural membrane condoms are less effective against HIV and STIs. That’s because they have tiny holes on them which limits their effectiveness in preventing infections.
  • Nitrile. Nitrile is a type of synthetic latex commonly used in making female condoms. It’s as effective as latex condoms in STIs and HIV prevention. 

When used correctly, condoms hardly break. However, even when used properly, it can still happen. If you suspect yours has broken, stop having sex immediately and check it out. 

Your condom might be broken if: 

  • The condom has a tear when pulled off the penis.
  • If cum, or semen, is dripping off the condom.
  • If the condom is missing. A slipped condom is similar to a broken condom.
  • If you only find the ring part of the condom on your or your partner's penis, or the condom is bunched around the ring of the penis.

If the condom breaks and there is a high risk of infection, consider doing the following:

  1. If you’ve had anal or vaginal sex, push out all the semen using your vaginal or anal muscles.
  2. Avoid douching your vagina or anus to prevent micro-tears that can increase your chances of getting an infection.
  3. If the condom breaks during oral sex, avoid brushing or flossing to prevent getting tiny cuts in your mouth. Instead, spit or swallow the semen then rinse and spit with water immediately. 

If you are unsure of your or your partner's health status, consider visiting the hospital for an STI test as soon as possible. When a condom breaks during sex it exposes you to body-to-body contact with sexual fluids. Unprotected contact with bodily fluids is the most common cause of infection from HIV and other STIs. 

If either you or your partner is at a high risk of contracting HIV, consider visiting the hospital within 72 hours. Your doctor may get you on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) pills to reduce the chances of you getting an HIV infection. 

You may also have a pregnancy scare when you notice the condom is broken. To avoid getting pregnant, take an emergency contraception pill (morning after pill). In most cases, the pill is effective for up to five days after your last sexual encounter. Emergency pills are most effective when swallowed as soon as possible. 

Here are a few reasons why your condom may break:  

  1. Wearing the condom in the wrong way. Rolling down the condom should be effortless. If you or your partner have a hard time, then it might be the wrong way. Try to pinch the tip of the condom when rolling it down. This helps create enough room to collect ejaculation.   
  2. Using oil-based lubricants. Oil weakens latex. Your condom might break if you use vaseline, coconut, or baby oil as lubricants. Use water-based or silicone-based lubes when using latex and synthetic condoms. Lambskin and polyurethane condoms, however, can work with any type of lube.
  3. Using expired condoms. Expired condoms are not as effective as they were when new and are easier to break. Always check the expiry date on the condom pack before purchasing or using any condom. 
  4. Using poorly stored condoms. Heat, direct sunlight, and friction are some of the biggest threats to a condom’s durability. You should avoid using condoms stored in your wallet or glove compartment for long. The friction and heat in these areas might contribute to breakage. Condoms are meant to be stored in cool dark areas, away from direct sunlight.  
  5. Using two condoms at the same time. Also known as double bagging. Using two or more condoms at once can cause condom breakage. 
  6. Using the wrong size. Condom sizes vary but the regular size works for most people. If a condom is the wrong size, it may not roll down completely. Also, it may be the wrong size if it feels too tight or too loose on your or your partner's penis. 
  7. Opening the condom incorrectly. Avoid using sharp objects or your teeth to open condom wraps. You might knick the condom and break it. To tear the wrap safely, try using your fingers. 
  8. Air pockets. Using a condom with air bubbles can break your condom. When rolling down the condom, always pinch the tip to keep air out. Also, smooth out the condom evenly after wearing it.

Many times, condom breakage is avoidable. Here are some of the tips that you can use to prevent condom breakage: 

  • Always check the condom’s expiration date before use. 
  • Open condom wrappers carefully to avoid making a hole or tear.
  • Confirm which way the condom rolls before wearing it.
  • Use the appropriate lube for the material.
  • Wear the right size. Feel free to sample different brands until you find the most comfortable brand and size.
  • Store condoms correctly (away from direct sunlight and heat). Read and follow storage instructions on the condom’s package.