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What If The Condom Breaks?

Published: 28 March, 2012
Dear What If The Condom Breaks?,
I've been on your website before and you've offered me amazing help. Like before I've look other places for this answer but cannot find it anywhere. See, my boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, we're 17 and we both have said we want to have sex. But I am nervous, what if the condom breaks? He said he will buy either condoms with spermicide or spermicide gel and he will pull out before he gets off. I really want to do this but there is a small part of me that keeps saying "what if". I'd really appreciate the help, thank you. Sincerely, want to but a lil nervous.

Dear What If The Condom Breaks?,

TeenHealthFX is glad that you wrote in with your question. Feeling a little nervous and thinking about the “what if’s” is definitely a good thing because it means that you will be more likely to think before you act and to make decisions around sex that are in your best interest when it comes to your emotional and physical health.

The first thing FX wants you to think about it that abstinence is the only method that will protect a person 100% from unwanted pregnancies or the transmission of STIs. If you see that you are in a place right now where you don’t want to take even the smallest chance of an unwanted pregnancy or the transmission of an STI, then abstaining might be the way to go. If you choose to abstain, that doesn’t mean you and your boyfriend can’t find other ways to be physically and emotionally close. There is hugging, kissing, massages, and more – you can even try mutual masturbation if you are ready for something more intimate. There are definitely options that might be a more comfortable middle ground for you – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

So how do you know if you are ready? Consider Planned Parenthood’s article Am I Ready for Sex? and FX’s answer to Want To Have Sex, But Not Sure If I’m Ready. If after thinking about these issues presented on readiness you and your boyfriend BOTH feel you are ready for sex, there are definitely steps you can take to greatly reduce the risks of pregnancy and STI transmission – your two main “what if’s.”

STIs:

• You and your boyfriend can get tested for STIs. If either of you tests positive for an STI you can find out from your doctor what treatments are available and how to best protect your partner from transmitting the STI. For example, someone with genital herpes should not have sex (even with a condom) when they have open sores or wounds present.
• Know that when condoms are used during vaginal sex and anal sex, and when condoms or other barriers are used during oral sex, it can help prevent the transmission of STIs.
 

Protecting against unwanted pregnancies:


• To protect against unwanted pregnancies you can use a condom. Read our answer to Using Condoms Correctly for information on the most effective ways to use condoms.
• You can speak to your doctor about a back-up method of birth control such as the pill to use in addition to condoms.
• Finally, educate yourself about emergency contraception. In the event a condom did break (if you were not on the pill or any other back-up form of birth control) you could use EC. EC is generally available for people 17 and older at drug stores and health centers without a prescription (younger than 17 need to go to a health center or doctor for a prescription). For more information about EC, read our answer to What Does The Emergency Contraceptive Pill Do?

 

Finally here is some information on how you can help to prevent condoms from breaking, as well as what to do if a condom does break:

How you can prevent a condom from breaking:

• Use condoms that are not expired.
• Make sure the condom you are using has been stored properly – in a cool, dry place – and that has not been stashed for long periods of time in a wallet or pants pocket.
• Use a water-based lubricant on the inside and outside of a condom prior to use.
• NEVER use two condoms at once (two male condoms or a male and female condom) as the friction between the two condoms could cause breakage to occur.

What to do if the condom breaks:

• If the condom breaks during intercourse, pull out quickly and replace the broken condom. Do NOT put a new condom on top of the broken one, as that will cause friction and breakage. Men should be able to feel when a condom breaks during intercourse – and if a man is unsure of what it might feel like, he can break a condom while wearing one during masturbation so he is clear about the sensation.
• If the condom breaks and semen leaks out, wash the semen away with soap and water. If the condom breaks and semen leaks into the vagina – or there is any concern that semen has leaked into the vagina – consider starting emergency contraception within 120 hours (the sooner the better).

 

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.
 

For more information about protecting yourself from the transmission of STIs, go to Planned Parenthood Safer Sex. Planned Parenthood also offers general information on Birth Control, as well as specific information on condoms.

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