There’s no feeling quite like the panic of getting done having sex with your partner and realizing the condom broke. Suddenly, the protection you thought you had from an unwanted pregnancy or STI is gone. Now, you’re left feeling vulnerable, anxious, and helpless to prevent the possibilities of what may happen next. But do you know the best thing you can do when a condom breaks? Stay calm and take these steps to prepare and protect yourself!
First, stop what you’re doing and evaluate the situation.
If at any point during sex you feel or even suspect a condom break, stop and withdraw immediately. To determine what next steps to take, you must first assess the circumstances. Is the condom still on your partner? Is it inside of you? Did the break happen before or after ejaculation?
If the condom is still inside of you, make sure you retrieve all of the pieces to prevent irritation or infection. If things were just getting started and you don’t find any pre-ejaculate, you should be safe to change to a new condom and continue. For breaks that happen post-ejaculation, there are a few things you’ll want to do next.
Head to the bathroom.
You won’t be able to completely remove semen from your vagina if the condom broke after ejaculation. However, you can take a couple of measures to minimize how much of it makes its way into your body.
Start by sitting on the toilet and pushing with your vagina muscles (as if you were having a bowel movement) to discharge any lingering semen. Try to make yourself pee while or after you do this too—this will not expel any semen, but is important to help flush out any bacteria that could cause infection. Finally, wash the area gently with just water. Do not use soap or douche (wash the inside), as this not only will not help push semen out but can actually end up pushing it up further into your body.
Consider using emergency contraception.
Most people’s biggest concern when a condom breaks is pregnancy. Fortunately, emergency contraception is an easy solution for this situation. Over-the-counter morning after pills, like Plan B, can be purchased at almost any drugstore or health clinic. The sooner you use it after sex, the better. While the pill is still effective up to five days after possible conception, it is the most effective within 12-24 hours.
If you are using a backup method of birth control, such as the birth control pill, shot, patch, ring, or an IUD, you should be protected from pregnancy even if the condom broke. Having a copper IUD inserted by a doctor within five days after having unprotected sex can also lower your chances of getting pregnant by up to 99%.
Wait a few weeks to take a pregnancy test.
It takes a few weeks after you have sex for an egg to be fertilized and then implanted in your uterine lining. Only after this process is complete will your body be producing enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected by a test. If you do not take emergency contraception or simply want some peace of mind, you should wait two to three weeks after having unprotected sex or until the first day of your missed period to take a pregnancy test for the most accurate results.
If your pregnancy test comes back positive, make an appointment with your OBGYN to confirm. They will be able to discuss options with you for moving forward with an unplanned pregnancy.
You may also want to get tested for STIs.
Unplanned pregnancy is not the only potential risk when a condom breaks. Condoms are the only way to protect against the transmission of STDs/STIs, so if it breaks then you are at risk for these too. If you and/or your partner are unsure about your STI status, it’s a good idea to get tested. For reliable results, you should wait about 2-3 weeks after having unprotected sex to get tested.
To prevent condoms from breaking in the future, follow these tips:
- Make sure condoms are not expired before you use them.
- Condoms are not one-size-fits-all, so be sure to use the correct size for your partner.
- Do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms. Stick to water or silicone-based.
- Only use one condom at a time—doubling up may seem like a good idea, but it only creates more friction and makes them more likely to break.
- Slow down and make sure the condom is in-tact and put on properly.
- Store condoms in a cool (not cold), dry spot.
For women in Rochester and surrounding WNY areas, South Avenue Women’s Services is your go-to resource for unplanned pregnancy help, birth control options, and all other aspects of sexual health and wellness. From condoms and other birth control methods to abortion services, STI testing, and OBGYN care, we’ve got all of your women’s health needs covered.
Contact our team today to discuss any and all of your women’s wellness needs!