Wearing a condom, or having your partner wear one, is vital to protect against STDs, STIs, and unplanned pregnancies. Unfortunately, condoms are not invulnerable to damage, and there are plenty of things you can do that will impair their ability to work effectively.
Here are just five common causes of condom failure.
1. Incorrect Storage
Condoms need to be stored correctly if they are to remain effective. This means placing them in a cool, dry place and not exposing them to direct sunlight. Condoms can be quite sensitive to both heat and light, which can make the condom drier and more brittle, thereby increasing the chances of tearing. Additionally, don't carry a condom around in your wallet. That might be fine for a night if you expect to get lucky, but keeping a condom in your wallet for weeks or months at a time will expose it to regular stress.
2. Using the Wrong Lubricant
A bit of extra lubrication can be fantastic, but you need to make sure you use the right sort. Water-based lubes are ideal, but you want to avoid oil-based products since they can damage the latex of the condom. This can cause a small amount of sperm to leak through. If you're using a lubricant that has been specifically designed for use during sex, you should be fine. If you're using an oil or cream that isn't designed for use during sex, you might need to worry.
3. Going Beyond the Expiration Date
It can be tempting to go beyond the expiration date given on your condom, but this can easily lead to breakage. Once the expiry date is reached, the latex will begin getting harder and any spermicidal lubrication will begin to lose its effectiveness and start to break down. This won't just increase the likelihood of breakages – it will also make wearing the condom far less comfortable.
4. Not Leaving Space at the Top
Putting on a condom might seem easy, but mistakes can be made. One of the most common issues is failing to leave space at the tip to catch the sperm ejaculated during orgasm. Try leaving around half an inch to make sure that there is enough room for the sperm to be caught. If there is no space at all, the sperm might leak out.
5. Exposure to Sharp Objects
Most people understand that condoms shouldn't be exposed to sharp objects, then they open up the packaging with their teeth or with a pair of scissors anyway. It might seem fine, but even the slightest nick in the surface of the condom can cause it to break; alternatively, a small hole may be created that neither sexual partner notices. Always open the individual package by hand at the tear-strip provided.
If you think you may have contracted an STD, STI, or think you may be pregnant, you can go to a sexual health clinic.