How Do Condoms Break

If you've ever wondered how do condoms break, our guide will show you different factors that cause condom damage, and how you can prevent it from happening.

The Promescent Team
Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 02/06/2023

What causes condoms to break

Condoms are a very popular and effective form of birth control. But like most other methods, they aren’t perfect.

If a condom breaks or slips off during sex, it can lead to unwanted pregnancies. It can even put someone at possible risk of STI's.

Some common causes for condoms breaking include sunlight, heat, and oil-based lubes.

Research has found that condoms have 98% success rate. When stored correctly and put on properly, they generally don't break easily.

If a condom has a small tear, it can go unnoticed by both partners. During longer intercourse, it's important to periodically check that the condom is intact.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent a condom from breaking, so it can be an effective form of protection.

This guide has all the tips needed to practice safe and enjoyable sex.

How Do Condoms Break?

So why do condoms break? Some of the main reasons condoms break include heat, sunlight and use of oil-based lubes.

Although they’re designed to be extremely stretchable and durable, they can also be prone to breaking.

Even when everything is done right, the condom may still break just by chance. The important thing to do is to make sure the risk of failure is reduced.

That means taking active measures to prevent breaking, tearing, or slipping off during sex. To increase a condom's success rate and reduce the risk of pregnancy or STI’s, follow these tips.

Heat and Sunlight

Improper storage of condoms can lead to them losing their elasticity and integrity. That causes a large increase in failure rates.

Carrying condoms in a wallet, for example, can cause both heat and friction to wear down the materials at a micro level. 

It might not look noticeable that the condom is compromised, but it can be prone to tearing when in use.

Some of the major things to avoid when storing condoms include:

  • Direct heat
  • Sunlight
  • Extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
  • Friction
  • Compression

For the best results, keep condoms stored in a drawer or under the bed at room temperature. Be sure to keep it away from direct sunlight.

Oil-Based Lubes

Certain oil-based lubes can weaken latex and other condom materials, making them more prone to breaking.

Some oil-based lubes that should be avoided for sex include:

  • Vaseline
  • Baby Oil
  • Body Lotions

While coconut oil is generally safe for unprotected sex, it may weaken latex and should never be used with condoms.

Some condom-safe lubricants include:

Expired Condoms

All reputable condom brands will post an expiration date on the packaging so you know if they’re safe to use or not.

For the best results, never use an expired condom. If possible, try not to use condoms that are close to their expiration date as well. 

Each date is chosen based on the condom’s materials and how long these materials last during proper storage. To maximize shelf-life, always store condoms properly.

Putting the Condom On the Wrong Way

Putting on a condom properly can help to prevent breaks and slippages. It’s important to open the package carefully along the edges and not tear across the condom. 

Keep your fingernails from compromising the material. Likewise, only use your hands to open it, and never use knives or scissors.

As you unroll the condom over the tip of the penis, hold onto the reservoir tip so that enough space is left for semen. Without this extra space, the increased pressure during ejaculation may cause the condom to tear.

Finally, unroll the condom completely so that the ringed band is at the base of the shaft. The condom should be snug, but not overly tight. It should also not move up and down the shaft during intercourse.

Using Two Condoms at Once

Using two condoms does not double the protection; in fact, it can increase the risk of condom failure. When condoms are rubbed against one another, it creates friction and heat.

This can easily cause tears and other unwanted effects for both male and female condoms. Only one partner should wear a condom during intercourse.

Neither partner should double up on their own condom usage.

Do Condoms Break Easily?

Condoms have a strong 98% success rate of protecting against pregnancy when used correctly over the course of a year. However, they can break when used or applied incorrectly.

While condom failures aren't always the user's fault, not following the tips in this guide can increase the risk of failure.

Condoms are designed to be durable during intercourse, and using them correctly is the best way to ensure they don't break easily.

Can Condoms Break Without Partners Knowing?

One common myth is that both partners will instantly realize when a condom breaks; however, that’s not always the case.

In some instances, a broken condom may be immediately obvious. This includes situations where either partner:

  • Feels the condoms snap or tear
  • Notices an immediate increase in sensations such as warmth, wetness, or texture
  • Hears the condom snap or pop

Beyond those noticeable changes, sometimes a condom may only break slightly, which can be much more difficult to notice.

Unfortunately, even a small tear can allow viable sperm to escape the condom and lead to a pregnancy risk.

Condoms can also slide off after orgasm if they haven't been applied correctly. This is why it’s always important to hold the base ring of the condom when withdrawing the penis after sex.

For longer intercourse, it’s important to periodically check the condom is still safely secured to the entire penile shaft. Factors that can potentially cause the condom to slip off include:

  • Rough sex
  • Precum
  • Lube inside the condom

If the condom appears to slide up and down the shaft, it’s important to pause, remove it, and then use a towel to dry off the penis before applying a new one.

How Often Do Condoms Break?

According to a large study that examined the condom usage of men, researchers found that roughly 7% of condoms broke during vaginal or anal intercourse.

While this may seem like a fairly high number, the study didn’t account for proper application or usage of the condom, nor did it account for whether the man wore a properly fitting condom.

It’s important to try different condoms before having sex to ensure they provide a comfortable and safe fit for the best protection.

Takeaways

Condoms can break for a number of reasons, and sometimes they can break even if the wearer does everything correctly.

However, by following the tips in this guide, you can reduce the risk of condom failure and ensure that sex stays pleasurable and safe at all times.

Find some durable condoms, and make sure that they fit properly before use. Store them properly at all times, and use adequate lubrication for the best results. 

Taking these actions will help reduce the risk of pregnancy and STI transmission during intercourse.

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The Promescent Team

The Promescent Team

Nuestro equipo tiene más de una década de experiencia en el campo del bienestar sexual y son expertos en disfunciones sexuales, como la eyaculación precoz. Ayudamos a las parejas y a los individuos a entender mejor las opciones de tratamiento disponibles para los diferentes tipos de necesidades sexuales y educamos al público en todo lo relacionado con la intimidad. Todos nuestros contenidos son revisados médicamente para garantizar su exactitud y fiabilidad.

Sources:

Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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