Broken condom - what should I do?

Don’t Panic - Here’s everything you need to know


Condoms serve more than one purpose. They protects both sexual partners from sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. They are not considered 100% effective, as they can break or split during intercourse, which can leave sexual partners at risk of pregnancy and an STI.

A broken condom can turn a fun situation into a very scary situation. No one plans for a broken condom and at that moment it can invoke a lot of fear.  If the situation is handled quickly and properly however, there is a very small chance of any resulting harm.


What first?

Avoiding pregnancy

Most times, people don’t notice a broken condom until after having sex. However, if you do realize the condom has split while having sex, it is imperative to stop straight away and replace the condom. Even if your partner has not ejaculated at this point, it is important to keep in mind that you might have been exposed to some sperm. The risk may be low, but even so, you might want to consider emergency contraception. 

If your partner has already ejaculated, you will be at risk of pregnancy, and should take emergency contraception as soon as possible. 


Here are some steps you can take

If you are worried about pregnancy, you can go to your local pharmacy and buy the morning-after pill. It is often available over the counter, and you can find it next to the condoms and lubricants in most pharmacies. The morning-after pill is most effective when taken during the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, but can remain effective for up to 5 days after.

The emergency coil, or emergency IUD is another method used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.  It need to be fitted by a medical professional. but cna be up to 99% effective if employed promptly, but can also be effective within a 5 day window. In order to get one fitted, you will need to visit a sexual health clinic or your doctor.

There are multiple forms of emergency contraception: 2 morning-after pills and one type of intrauterine device.

  • Levonorgestrel (Plan B step-one): Works by preventing ovulation off the egg or the fertilization of an egg. This is a single dose that should be taken 72 hours after partaking in unprotected sex. 
  • Ulipristal Acetate (Ella): This is a single dose contraceptive, but requires a doctor’s prescription. Its mechanism of action involves the delaying or prevention of ovulation by altering the lining of the uterus. This can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. 
  • Intrauterine Device: This device is T shaped in nature and is wrapped in copper and inserted in the vagina. Here, copper is released in small amounts making the uterine lining an inhospitable for pregnancy. If placed before 5 days, it is 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy.


Preventing STIs

When a condom breaks, there is a chance to contrating or transmitting an STI. If you or your partner have not been tested recently and are unaware if you may currently have any STIs, it is advisable to get tested. Even if you or your partner do not have any symptoms of ab STI, you may still be infected and could potentially pass it on to each other. 

It is vital to visit your local doctor or sexual health clinic to get tested for STIs and get the appropriate treatment as serious complications may come about from untreated STIs.

Home STI testing kits are available online.

Most STIs are initially asymptomatic, which means no symptoms appear and you have an infection without realizing it. This is why, if you have risk factors for contracting an STI, routine testing is improtant.

Initial symptoms of an STI may include:

  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Itching
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Fever

If you experience any of these symptoms, is it important to visit a doctor as soon as possible.


How to prevent your condom from breaking


  • Use an expired condom 
  • Use a condom that has been stored in either hot or cold temperatures 
  • Wear 2 condoms at once, as this can create friction, causing them to break
  • Use oil-based lubricant, as this can inflame vaginal and rectal tissues. Switch to water or silicone-based lubricants
  • Use condoms that are the wrong size - if they are too small for you, the condom has a higher chance of breaking
  • Reuse a condom



  1. "What Should I Do If a Condom Breaks?". 2020, <> [accessed 29 March 2020].
  2. "What to Do If The Condom Breaks". 2020, <> [accessed 29 March 2020].

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