10 Ways to Prevent Condom Failure

Condoms stand as a cornerstone of effective strategies to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When used correctly, they offer a safeguard during vaginal, oral, and anal sexual activities.1

Nevertheless, instances of condom failure can arise due to various factors, including:

  • Inadequate storage
  • Improper application or use
  • Expiry
  • Tears or damage
  • Incorrect fit (too small or too large)
  • Inappropriate lubricant usage

This article delves into the causes of condom ineffectiveness and offers insights into the proper way to use condoms, thus thwarting the chances of failure.

The Right Way to Use Condoms

The correct application of condoms encompasses more than just the act of intercourse; it begins with the condom purchase and extends through its disposal.

To ensure condom reliability, adhere to these 10 essential practices:

  1. Choose the Appropriate Size


Selecting the right condom size entails measuring your erect penis to ascertain proper length, width, and girth. These measurements can then be matched against the sizing chart on the condom packaging.

While numerous condom brands are available, established names such as Durex, Lifestyles, and Trojan offer a diverse array of types and sizes, facilitating a tailored fit.
  1. Opt for Compatible Lubricants

When using latex condoms, opt for water-based or silicone-based lubricants exclusively.

Steer clear of oil-based lubricants, including baby oil or coconut oil, as they can compromise latex integrity and heighten the risk of rupture.2

For STI prevention, solely employ condoms endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), refraining from the use of lambskin condoms.

  1. Proper Storage Conditions

Condoms should not be exposed to temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or dropping below 32 degrees F. Shield condoms from direct sunlight, and avoid storing them in your car’s glove compartment.

  1. Monitor Expiry Dates

Expired condoms should be discarded without exception, as their efficacy is uncertain beyond the expiration date.

  1. Unpack with Care

Rushing and tearing the condom package with your teeth can lead to tears. To prevent this, employ nail scissors instead.

Alternatively, consider pre-opening a condom and placing it beside your bed or another safe location.

  1. Master Correct Condom Application

Familiarize yourself with the correct orientation of the condom and how to roll it on properly, ensuring an open reservoir tip (the section that collects ejaculate).

Avoid learning this skill until the last minute; practice either alone or with your partner beforehand.

  1. Prioritize Lubrication

Excessive friction during intercourse can cause condom tearing. Combat this by utilizing ample lubrication. If necessary, pause to apply more lubricant, particularly if you or your partner have genital piercings.

  1. Prompt Removal After Ejaculation

Swiftly removing the condom post-ejaculation prevents it from slipping off due to penis shrinkage during withdrawal. This minimizes the risk of sperm entering the vagina or rectum.

After ejaculation, carefully withdraw and discard the condom, tying the end to prevent spillage.

  1. No Condom Reuse

Despite wanting to engage in subsequent intercourse with the same partner, refrain from reusing a condom. External ejaculation can occur, and the likelihood of breakage increases.

  1. Consistent Condom Usage

STIs aren’t discernible through appearance alone.

Don’t allow anyone to dissuade you from using condoms or imply that discontinuing use prematurely is safe. If condoms aren’t available, postpone sexual activity or explore safer alternatives such as mutual masturbation.

Condom Effectiveness: The Numbers

Research indicates that when used in typical scenarios, external condoms have a failure rate of 14%.3

However, when applied correctly, they demonstrate a 97% efficacy in averting pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.4

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 13% condom failure rate with typical use. This signifies that, following one year of exclusive condom use for birth control, 13 out of 100 couples will experience pregnancy.5

With perfect application—employing condoms correctly during each instance of intercourse—the failure rate drops to approximately 2%.6

Comparatively, other birth control methods exhibit the following failure rates with typical use:5

– Spermicides: 21%

– Sponge: 14% to 27% (varies by pregnancy history)

– Fertility awareness: 2% to 23% (varies by method)

– Diaphragm: 17%

– Internal condom: 21%

– Oral contraceptives: 7%

– NuvaRing: 7%

– Depo-Provera: 4%

– Intrauterine devices (IUDs): 0.1% to 0.8%

– Tubal ligation: 0.5%

– Vasectomy: 0.15%

Additional Factors to Consider

Understanding the limitations of condoms is vital.

For example, relying solely on condoms reduces the risk of genital herpes (herpes simplex virus type 2) by only 30%.7 It’s important to be aware of herpes symptoms and abstain from intercourse during active outbreaks. Individuals with genital herpes can also take antiviral medication to suppress the virus and prevent transmission.

Moreover, external condoms offer 80% protection against HIV transmission during vaginal sex and 70% during anal sex.8 For enhanced safeguarding, individuals with HIV should undergo antiretroviral therapy, while non-HIV partners can consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to mitigate infection risks.9

In Conclusion

Practicing correct condom use contributes to pregnancy prevention and reduces the likelihood of contracting STIs.

However, keep in mind that specific factors, such as expired condoms, improper storage, or the use of incompatible lubricants, can compromise their effectiveness.

Villarreal Mike

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