In an intense moment of passion, a condom breaks. A condom breaking is scary for a number of reasons, but first remain calm, relax, breathe.
If the breakage occurred during sex, pull out carefully. For women, urinating as soon as possible will help flush away any sperm. Both women and men should immediately wash outside the genital area with soap and warm water, however women should not wash inside their vagina as this may push any sperm further into the vagina.
As soon as the accident occurs, it is important as sexual partners (even if casual partners) to help each other and have a meaningful supportive conversation on the next steps. Talk openly and honestly about possible risk factors of HIV, such as history of unsafe sex practices, injecting drug use and sleeping with sex workers. It is very important that both partners get tested for sexually transmitted infections including HIV. HIV tests should be repeated at six weeks, three months and six months. A clinician may recommend post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a “morning after” treatment for HIV that may prevent infection. The treatment is a month long course of HIV (antiretroviral) medications that are most effective if you start them right away—but may still work up to 72 hours after exposure. Side effects can include extreme nausea and fatigue. There is also morning after pregnancy prevention tablets that women can take.
There are a number of reasons why a condoms breaks…it could have been worn incorrectly, past its expiration date, broken due to heat and friction during dry sex.
The golden rules to avoid condoms breaking are: choose a good condom—one that carries a quality mark or a Kitemark. Use water or silicone based lubricants as oil-based lubricants can cause rapid deterioration of the condom. Dry sex will cause condoms to tear— use lubricants if necessary. Do not use anything oily like petroleum jelly, cooking oil, butter, hand creams or body lotion as lubricants. Always remove any air in the condom by holding the teat between the thumb and forefinger —air pockets can cause small tears if not removed. A condom is more likely to break if sex lasts a long time (longer than 45 minutes); consider changing the condom during a long sex session. Keep your condoms away from direct sunlight and avoid warm places like the glove box of the car or the inside of a wallet. Never open the condom packet with your teeth. Unroll condoms to the base of an erect penis before starting sexual intercourse. When pulling out avoid leakage by holding the condom tight at the base of the penis. Never re-use a condom, throw away (wrap in tissue and throw in a bin) any used condoms, put on a new one if you start again. And finally practice and be prepared to put on a condom correctly and consistently…that goes for both men and women!