Breaking, slipping, leaking, failure = #condomfail. You know, all those things you don’t want to happen when you’re using a condom. Surprisingly many of us are making errors which lead to these sticky situations occurring. To help, we’re going to clue you in to why these failures happen and how you can prevent them from happening to you.
1. Late application
Putting the condom on at the last minute has been found by numerous studies to be the most common condom error, with over 50% of people admitting to putting the condom on during sex, rather than at the start of sex. The condom needs to be on before any sexual contact (vaginal, anal or oral) – so basically as soon as the penis is erect, put the condom on. The reason for this? Well, pre-cum fluid (the fluid released from the penis when aroused) can contain semen and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) (if the person has one), so putting the condom on halfway through sex, or prior to ejaculation (cumming), isn’t going to be effective in preventing pregnancy or a potential infection.
2. Unrolling the condom before application
Up to 25% of people have reported completely unrolling the condom before putting it on. We’re not quite sure how people manage to get the condom on when it’s unrolled, but don’t bother trying, it’s not correct and you’d be wasting precious sexy time trying to figure it out. The condom should be placed on the tip of the penis before unrolling it – then, it should just glide down the shaft of the penis as you unroll.
3. Not pinching the tip
Almost 50% of people fail to pinch the tip of the condom when applying it. We can’t stress enough how important it is to pinch the tip, and to keep it pinched with one hand whilst unrolling the condom onto the penis with your other hand – this leaves room for the cum (ejaculate fluid), and it removes air from the tip of the condom. If you’re not a pincher, get on that ASAP, as no space for cum, or an air bubble in the condom, can lead to the condom bursting.
4. Putting it on inside out, then flipping it over
Up to 30% of people have started to put the condom on inside out, realised, then flipped it over and continued to use it. Condoms can only unroll correctly one way, and can’t be flipped like a coin – you need to get it right the first time when putting it on and if you don’t, throw it away and start again. Why? Because the condom is exposed to pre-cum fluid from the tip of the penis and if flipped over, that fluid is on the outside of the condom and can be transferred to your partner.
5. Stored incorrectly
Around 20% of people store their condoms incorrectly. Condoms need to be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat which weakens them. A drawer in your bedroom is a good place to keep condoms, and then stash a few in your pocket or in your handbag before a night out. Avoid storing condoms in your wallet or purse for long periods of time – sure, pop them in your wallet for a night out but it’s best not to keep them in there any longer than that as the latex will get damaged.
6. It was expired
Right up there with incorrect storage is not checking the expiry date. Did you even know condoms had an expiry date? They do! Latex breaks down and weakens over time so when the packet says it’s expired it’s time to throw them away and get some new ones.
7. Not rolling it all the way on
If you’re only rolling the condom halfway down the penis, it’s pretty likely it’s going to slip off during sex. Seems obvious enough, however this is still a condom error people are making with about 10% of people having reported starting sex before the condom was unrolled to the base of the penis.
8. Using the wrong lube
Yes, there is such a thing as using the wrong lube with condoms. Lube comes in many varieties and it’s important to get it right with condoms. Water-based lube is the best lube for condoms, and most silicone based lubes are also okay. Other types, such as oil-based lube, massage oil or olive oil, react with the latex and can cause the condom to break. It will say on the lube packet what type it is.
9. Incorrect withdrawal
Incorrect withdrawal after sex is reported by around 30% of people. It’s important to withdraw the penis after ejaculation has happened, and not to wait for the penis to go soft as the penis can shrink a little, and the condom may get loose and leak fluid. You also need to hold the rim of the condom when withdrawing, which will make sure the condom doesn’t slip off and get left behind.
10. Not using a condom
Lastly, although not technically a condom error, we thought this was an important one to include –not using a condom at all. Over 60% of people aged 15-29 have reported they haven’t used condoms consistently during vaginal or anal sex in the past 12 months.
Hopefully you now have a fair idea of things to do or to avoid when using condoms. You can also check out our condom page for more information. Remember if the condom does break, leak, slip off or if you don’t to use one, get a sexual health check-up. If you’re in a girl/guy relationship, and another form of contraception wasn’t used (e.g. The Pill or an IUD), it’s a good idea to get emergency contraception also to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Emergency contraception can be bought without a prescription at a Family Planning clinic, a chemist, or sexual health clinic.