Condoms are one of the safest and most effective ways to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. However, they aren’t always effective. Condoms can break for a variety of reasons and sometimes, it’s difficult for partners to know when in the throes of passion. If you’re aware of the condom breaking, you should stop immediately and wear another condom.
What causes condom breaks
Condoms can tear or break if they’re not stored properly. Condoms should be stored in areas where they don’t risk poking from keys or jewellery. Don’t store condoms in a wallet for extended times. If it keeps being folded or sat on, it can weaken the material. In addition, heat, sun, oil and various chemicals can weaken the foil cover of the condom. Exposing them to heat and light dries them out. Using lotions with a condom can also lead to breakage. You should only use water-based lubricants. Here are Household Items That You Can Use As Lube (And Those To Avoid)
Don’t open the foil wrapper using your teeth, scissors or anything sharp. This can easily poke it. Avoid touching them with fingernails, or jewellery. Wearing more than one condom causes friction and can cause one or both to break.
Using a condom after its expiry date means its material could have worn off. Not wearing condoms correctly can also make them break. To wear it correctly, there has to be space left at the tip. Wearing a condom that’s too small is also risky. If one partner isn’t properly lubricated, the extra friction can damage the material.
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What you need to consider
When the condom breaks, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- Did it break before or after ejaculation?
- Is it still on or stuck inside?
- Was the condom to prevent pregnancy?
- Do you know your partner’s STI status?
The first step to take once you feel the condom break is to withdraw from your partner’s body. If it broke before ejaculation, you can remove it, and wear another one correctly to continue. If it’s stuck inside your partner, try to remove any remnants left. Leaving pieces of latex in someone’s body can lead to infection. If you were using a condom to prevent pregnancy and the condom broke post-ejaculation, look for emergency contraceptives. If it is to prevent STIs, ensure you get tested as soon as possible to get the necessary steps forward.
What to do when concerned about pregnancy
If your partner ejaculated, immediately after your partner withdraws go to the toilet, and bear down over the toilet. Pushing down with your pelvic floor muscles can help remove any lingering ejaculate. Force yourself to urinate. This doesn’t remove any semen but it eliminates any fluid lingering outside the vagina.
Use lukewarm water to gently clean your genitalia. Do not douche. Vaginal douching can cause irritation due to the chemicals in the douching solution. They can increase the risk of inflammation, and infection and can push the semen further within.
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If you’re not on the pill, look for emergency contraception (EC). This includes hormone pills or a copper intrauterine device. Different products have different working windows. Some emergency pills like Postinor-2 work within 72 hours of ejaculation. Ensure you read the directions carefully. Every emergency contraception is more effective the closer it’s taken to ejaculation.
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EC pills contain hormones that stop ovulation, and fertilisation, and prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus. It’s important to remember that EC pills can have side effects and some brands are less effective if you are overweight.
Copper IUDs have to be inserted by a medical practitioner. Some can prevent pregnancy for up to ten years. In addition, research shows they have 99% effectiveness rate at preventing pregnancy.
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What to do when concerned about STIs
Avoid douching, enemas, or harsh soaps to clean your mouth, vagina or anus. These products can lead to inflammation and irritation. If you’re worried about STI transmission, the first step to take is to get an STI test if you don’t know your partner’s status. If the results are negative, you should take another test in at least 14 days, then after six weeks, and then three months. After six months, if all tests come back negative, you could be in the clear.
The next step is to get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This should be taken 72 hours before the moment of ejaculation. PEP reduces the risk of HIV exposure. PEP needs to be taken at least once or twice daily for 28 days. Follow the directions as prescribed. HIV Prevention: What You Need To Know About PrEP
Different STIs have varied times for when symptoms will show. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea will test positive after two weeks. Syphilis can test positive after three weeks, three months or 6 months. Genital warts and HIV can test positive after three weeks. You should get tested for genital herpes as soon as symptoms appear. If you had oral sex, get an oral swab. Ensure to request an anal pap smear if you had anal sex.
Sometimes, you may also experience an infection or illness that isn’t an STI. This includes conditions like urinary tract infection or yeast infection. In addition, if you experience rashes, blisters, itching, unusual discharge, burning while peeing, pain during sex, or fever, see your doctor immediately.
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