First of all, congratulations on using a condom! For sexually active GLBT teens, this is one of the best ways to say safe. So it can seem totally unfair if you made the effort, only to discover that the condom broke. This can be really scary, so it is really important to know that you have some options.
What to Do if a Condom Breaks
Research indicate that about 1-3% of condoms break. This can happen for all sorts of reasons. For example, one might break if it has passed its expiration date, or isn’t well lubricated, or if it isn’t put on the right way.
Now 1-3% is not a big number by any means, but if you are the person dealing with a broken condom, the fact that you don’t have a lot of company is probably not that comforting.
What to Do Right When it Happens
A lot of guys can tell that a condom has broken, but if you are ever unsure, simply stop what you are doing for a second and check.
If you realize that a condom breaks during sex, the first thing to do is to pull out immediately. Try to stay calm and assess the situation. If ejaculation has not occurred, you can put on a new condom and continue having sex.
If ejaculation did occur, you can shower or wash your genitals with soap and warm water. Do not douche or give yourself an enema after a condoms breaks. Doing that can push semen deeper into the body making both pregnancy and infections more likely rather than less!
What is Your Risk?
Here are questions you can ask to help figure out what if anything you are at risk for:
- Did the condom break after ejaculation occurred?
- Is pregnancy a possibility? If so, was the partner who could get pregnant using a back up method of contraception, like the pill?
- When were you last tested for STI’s including HIV?
- How would you deal with a possible pregnancy? An STI?
If You Are Concerned About Bacterial STIs
A big concern after a broken condom is the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. It is wise to test for infections as soon as you can (remember the amount of time you will have to wait to test for different infections will vary).
Alternately, you can talk to your doctor about a prophylaxis treatment.
Prophylaxis treatments refer to treating someone for bacterial STI's with antibiotics, rather than waiting testing for them. You can choose to be treated for some or all bacterial infections.
If You Are Concerned About HIV
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a course of antiretroviral drugs which reduces the risk of contracting HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS) if a person has had a high risk exposure. One example of this would be if you had a condom break with a partner you know to be HIV positive.
To be most effective, treatment should begin within an hour of exposure. After 72 hours post-exposure PEP is significantly less effective and few health care providers would consider it worthwhile to undergo treatment. Prophylactic treatment for HIV typically lasts four weeks and can have serious side effects.
If Pregnancy is a Possibility
If you are worried that a broken condom could lead to an unwanted pregnancy, then you need to know about emergency contraception (EC).
Emergency contraception can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. In the United States, men and women over 17 can obtain it without a prescription. Some drug stores keep EC behind the counter. In others, you can simply pick up a pack in the family planning aisle.
If you are 16 and under, you will need a prescription for emergency contraception. This can be obtained from your family doctor, a health clinic, or the emergency room.
When a condom breaks it is natural to assume the worst will happen. So it is important to know about your options and also to realize that even with no treatment, unplanned pregnancies and STIs are by no means inevitable!