If you’re using condoms during sex, good for you! You should get major props for being safe. Unless you’re on a the pill, patch, implant, IUD, or any other form of birth control, you should be using condoms (or condoms and another method if you're worried about STDs).
No, the pull-out method is not an effective form of birth control unless you do it 100 percent correctly every single time. And even then, you can still get pregnant! If you use the pull-out method correctly, four in every 100 women will still conceive. It’s just not a great idea. Who needs that kind of stress when they’re trying to enjoy themselves during sex?
But what if you’re using condoms religiously and one breaks? That’s a big old pain in the butt. Not to mention totally nerve-wracking. You’re just in the thick of things, getting really into it, and suddenly your partner feels a pop through the latex (or polyurethane). Not fun.
Here is everything you need to know about a condom breaking, and everything you should do to avoid STI transmission and pregnancy.
First of all, how do you know if the condom broke?
If condoms are your primary form of birth control, be aware of their potential to break during sex. It’s unlikely, but it happens. If you put it on correctly (read this if you’re unsure), the chances of breakage are quite low.
If it does break, a male partner will likely feel it before you do. It feels like the sheath over their penis (especially during ejaculation) suddenly stops working. There may even be an audible “pop” or “snap” when the condom breaks.
Your partner should pull out immediately if this happens. Make sure to have the game plan set in place. If your partner feels the condom break he (or they) should know to remove their penis from the vaginal canal.
Preventing pregnancy after a condom breaks
If the condom breaks during sex, head to your local pharmacy to get Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill. You can even get Plan B on Amazon now without a prescription! It’s available on Prime (two-day shipping), so we recommend having one or two doses in the house if condoms are your only form of contraception.
When taken within 72 hours, your chances of getting pregnant are slim. It acts sort of like a giant dose of the standard birth control pill, stopping an egg from releasing from the ovary.
If your partner didn’t ejaculate, we still suggest taking Plan B. Why? Pre-cum. While most pre-ejaculatory fluid contains dead sperm (or no sperm at all), there can still be instances where it does contain sperm. Do not take chances with your body, especially if you’re ovulating.
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Address any possible STIs
If you and your partner are in an open relationship, or are poly, any possibility of a passed STI should be addressed. This is especially true when one partner is HIV positive. Go to your doctor (or even an ER) and ask for PEP, a post-exposure drug that can prevent infection within a 72 hour window. After 72 hours, your risk of infection increases dramatically.
As for any other STIs, if you and your partner are open, you should be getting tested regularly every six to ten weeks. If you’re worried, wait two weeks and get tested again. Chlamydia (and a few other common STIs) have a two week incubation period and may not reveal themselves on a test beforehand.
How to avoid breakage
To avoid condom breakage, there are two crucial things you should do: Use lube and be sure you’re putting the condom on correctly.
Watch this video if you want to learn how to put on a condom. Practice with a banana like you’re back in high school sex ed.
See more: Can You Have Sex With a Yeast Infection?
When it comes to lube, don’t rely on the crappy lube that is already on the condoms themselves. Get some of your own!
Keep it by the bed, in the car, in your purse (or wherever else you might need it). Lube up the inside of the condom before putting it on your partner, and the outside once the condom is in place. This helps keep friction to a minimum and keeps the chances of breakage low.