Studies of condom use offer great insight into why we continue to have a high rate of unplanned pregnancies in this country as well as continued problems with sexually transmitted diseases. In “perfect use” situations the failure rate of condoms is about 3%, however, perfect use is sadly not the norm.
With that in mind, here are the top 10 errors men make with condoms and 10 excellent reasons why all women should be educated how to appropriately use condoms so they can take over if a fatal error appears imminent:
1. Failure to check condom for visual damage.
2. Failure to check expiration date
3. Putting condom on AFTER starting sex (43% of men report doing this 50% of the time they use condoms!)
4. Failed to hold tip and leave space
5. Put condom on wrong side up (had to flip it over)
6. Didn’t use lubricant *
7. Took condom off BEFORE sex was over (15% of men report doing this 50% of the time they use a condoms, come on guys!)
8. Condom slipped off while withdrawing penis
9. Started sex before condom was rolled on all the way
10. Used a condom that had been stored in a wallet for >; 1 month
The study that reported these errors also reported a condom breakage rate was 29% and a slipping off rate of 13%, so a 42%terminal event rate. Given the frequency of these errors and the resulting catastrophically high rate of breakage/slippage, it is clear that more education efforts are required regarding correct use of condoms and that relying on condoms alone for contraception is just not sufficient for one-third of users.
Women should be educated regarding appropriate use of condoms (from opening the package to withdrawal) and if they are not also using hormonal contraception (pill, patch, ring, shot, or implant) or an IUD, they should most definitely have Plan B on hand for back up.
*The effect of lubricant on condoms effectiveness appears controversial. Certainly, oil-based lubricant is an absolute no when it comes to latex condoms as it increases the risk of breakage; however, some studies suggest water-based lubricants reduces breakage although I also found a few studies that suggest lube is associated with an increased rate of condom slippage. Currently, the CDC recommends a water or silicone based lubricant with condoms.